By John Flesher Associated Press
Traverse City, Mich. — A federal agency didn’t follow required
procedures when giving Michigan and Wisconsin permission to kill
wolves that attack livestock or pets, an animal protection group
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued permits allowing the
two states to use lethal control measures against problem wolves.
Michigan’s permit, received in April, says the state can kill up to
20 per year.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the Humane Society of the United
States and 11 other organizations said the agency failed to notify
the public and take comments before issuing the permits, steps
required under the Endangered Species Act.
“The intentional killing of an endangered species is a drastic
step, and one that should never be taken without first soliciting
and carefully considering expert views about whether lethal control
is really necessary,” said John Grandy, the Humane Society’s senior
vice president of wildlife.
Georgia Parham, a spokesperson for the USFWS, said the agency
hadn’t received the suit and could not discuss it. It was filed in
U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The suit seeks a court order to withdraw the permits and go
through the process again.
Parham acknowledged public comments weren’t sought before the
permits were issued, but said the permits were linked to others
issued previously. The agency is legally empowered to allow killing
threatened or endangered species under some circumstances.
Patricia Lane, a Humane Society attorney, said lethal measures
might be justified in extreme cases. But the permit issued to
Michigan lets the state set traps without ensuring they would catch
only wolves preying on livestock or pets, she said.
It also doesn’t require farmers and ranchers to do all they can
to prevent wolf attacks, she said.
Gray wolf numbers have surged in the upper Great Lakes region
since the Endangered Species Act was approved in 1973. Scientists
say about 3,800 live in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.