The Big Story Blog

Will court challenge follow gray wolf de-listing?

Posted at 3:45 PM on December 21, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

Public policy and wolves have had a difficult relationship over the years. With news today that the federal government is removing the Western Great Lakes gray wolf from its endangered species list, is a court challenge far behind?

MPR News reporter Stephanie Hemphill writes:

Since this is the federal government's third attempt to remove federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region, the big question is whether this will move will also face lawsuits. Two earlier attempts to change the status of wolves were rebuffed by the courts.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar pushed the Interior Department hard to get the wolf removed from the endangered species list.

She says this kind of administrative action is preferable to Congressional action. Last spring Congress bypassed the Interior Department procedures and forced the de-listing of wolves in the Rocky Mountains.

"It's the right way to do it, hopefully we won't face litigation because we handled it the right way. And if we do, then we'll have to look at Plan B which is doing it legislatively."

If that sounds like a threat, Klobuchar says it is. She says wolves have clearly recovered enough to be taken off the list.

But not everyone will agree.

"There are nonlethal ways that USDA Wildlife Services has researched to discourage wolves from attacking, and USDA takes wolves that are depredating on livestock," said Howard Goldman, Minnesota state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

"We don't see need for the de-listing or the basis, or the basis for a sport season on wolves which we're afraid would follow the de-listing," he added.

Other environmental groups are taking a wait-and-see position.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the ruling addressed earlier concerns, and it supports the decision.

The Center for Biological Diversity says it will watch what happens, perhaps for several years, before deciding whether to challenge the de-listing.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.