Salazar Announces Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes, Removal from Threatened and Endangered Species List

States, tribes to assume management
responsibility

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced
that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered
and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a final rule in
the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and
Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of
endangered and threatened wildlife and plants.

“Once again, the Endangered Species Act has proved to be an
effective tool for bringing species back from the brink of
extinction,” Secretary Salazar said. “Thanks to the work of our
scientists, wildlife managers, and our state, tribal, and
stakeholder partners, gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region
are now fully recovered and healthy.”

The rule removing ESA protection for gray wolves in the western
Great Lakes becomes effective 30 days after publication in the
Federal Register.

“Gray wolves are thriving in the Great Lakes region, and their
successful recovery is a testament to the hard work of the Service
and our state and local partners,” said Fish and Wildlife Service
Director Dan Ashe. “We are confident state and tribal wildlife
managers in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will effectively
manage healthy wolf populations now that federal protection is no
longer needed.”

Wolves total more than 4,000 animals in the three core recovery
states in the western Great Lakes area and have exceeded recovery
goals. Minnesota’s population is estimated at 2,921 wolves, while
an estimated 687 wolves live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and
another 782 in Wisconsin. Each state has developed a plan to manage
wolves after federal protection is removed.

Wolf populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan will be
monitored for at least five years to ensure the species continues
to thrive. If it appears, at any time, that the gray wolf cannot
sustain itself without the protections of the ESA, the Service can
initiate the listing process, including emergency listing.

In the Service’s May 5, 2011, proposal to delist western Great
Lakes wolves, the agency also proposed accepting recent taxonomic
information that the gray wolf subspecies Canis lupus lycaon should
be elevated to the full species Canis lycaon, and that the
population of wolves in the Western Great Lakes is a mix of the two
full species, Canis lupus and Canis lycaon. Based on substantial
information received from scientists and others during the public
comment period, the Service has re-evaluated that proposal, and the
final rule considers all wolves in the Western Great Lakes DPS to
be Canis lupus.

The Service also previously proposed delisting gray wolves in
all or parts of 29 states in the eastern half of the United States.
The Service continues to evaluate that portion of the May 5, 2011,
proposal and will make a final separate determination at a later
date.

Gray wolves were originally listed as subspecies or as regional
populations of subspecies in the lower 48 states and Mexico under
the ESA in 1973 and its predecessor statutes before that. In 1978,
the Service reclassified the gray wolf as an endangered species
across all of the lower 48 states and Mexico, except in Minnesota
where the gray wolf was classified as threatened.

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

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native
fish, wildlife and plants. The Service works to actively engage
conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and
innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species.

To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working
with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants
and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and
wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence,
stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals
and commitment to public service. For more information on our work
and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

 

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