Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes Have Recovered

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced a proposal
to remove gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area – which
includes Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin – from the Federal List
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife because wolves have recovered
in this area and no longer require the protection of the Endangered
Species Act (ESA).

Wolves in the Western Great Lakes area have exceeded recovery goals
and continue to thrive. Wolf numbers total more than 4,000 animals
in the three core recovery states. Minnesota’s population is
estimated at 2,922 wolves; there are an estimated 557 wolves in
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and another 690 in Wisconsin. Each state
has developed a plan to manage wolves once federal protection is no
longer needed.

“Wolves in the Western Great Lakes have achieved recovery,” said
Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould. “We are
taking this step because wolf populations have met recovery goals
and no longer need the protection of the Endangered Species Act. We
are asking the public to review this proposal and provide us with
any additional information that can help inform our final
decision.”

The proposal identifies the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population
Segment (DPS) of wolves, which includes a core area of Minnesota,
Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as parts of adjacent states that
are within the range of wolves dispersing from the core recovery
area. After reviewing the latest available scientific and taxonomic
information, the Service now recognizes the presence of two species
of wolves in the Western Great Lakes: the gray wolf (Canis
lupus), the wolf species currently listed under the ESA, and
the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), with a historical range
that includes portions of eastern Canada and the northeastern
United States. Recent wolf genetic studies indicate that what was
formerly thought to be a subspecies of gray wolf (Canis lupus
lycaon) is actually a distinct species (Canis
lycaon). To establish the status of this newly recognized
species, the Service is initiating a review of Canis lycaon
throughout its range in the United States and Canada.

The Service is seeking information from governmental agencies,
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry and any
other interested parties on threats, population size and trends,
and other data that could affect the long-term survival of the
Western Great Lakes DPS of the gray wolf. The Service is also
seeking information on the status of the eastern wolf (Canis
lycaon) throughout its range in the United States and
Canada.

Written comments may be submitted by one of the following
methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions
for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029].

U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments
Processing, Attn:  Docket No. [FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029]; Division of
Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

The proposed rule was delivered to the Federal Register today and
is expected to publish within the next two weeks. Comments must be
received within 60 days from publication in the Federal Register.
The Service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means the
agency will post any personal information provided through the
process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes. 

Following the close of the comment period, the Service will
consider all new information and other data and make a final
decision on the proposal to delist the Western Great Lakes DPS of
wolves. In the meantime, gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes
area will remain classified as endangered, except in Minnesota
where they will remain threatened.

More information on the recovery of gray wolves in the Western
Great Lakes can be found at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/.

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