A development that can’t happen fast enough for many in northwest Minnesota occurred this morning, when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced plans to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in the Great Lakes Region.
The Great Lakes Region covers Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and portions of adjoining states, including North Dakota.
Salazar said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a rule in the Federal Register to delist wolves in the Great Lakes Region. The rule becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
That means management of wolves will return to the states next month. The population in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin now exceeds 4,000 animals and Minnesota’s population alone is estimated at 2,921 wolves. That’s more than twice the 1,400 benchmark called for under federal recovery goals.
Each state has developed a plan to manage wolves after federal protection is removed.
“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.”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a conference call for 11 a.m. today to discuss specifics of the wolf delisting and how the state will manage wolves. I’ll provide updates here as they become available.