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Legislation to Delist Wolves Passes House Committee

Wisconsin Ag Connection

A bill that would allow certain states manage their own gray wolf populations by removing court-ordered protections for them has been approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources. As part of the measure, the U.S. Department of the Interior would be required to reissue two rules that remove such protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for animals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, as well as portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming ,Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. In addition, the policy would prohibit judicial review of the reissued rules.

U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, as well as most of the state’s congressional representatives have been urging their colleagues in Washington to over-turn a federal court decision to delist the gray wolf.

“For years I’ve heard about problems caused by the growing gray wolf population throughout northern Wisconsin. Most recently, those reports include fatal attacks on hunting dogs,” said Sen. Johnson in a statement. “Future gray wolf listing decisions should come from wildlife experts, not liberal judges. I will keep pushing my colleagues for congressional action on this bipartisan priority until it becomes law.”

Wolves in the affected states were relisted under the Endangered Species Act three years ago by a federal judge. Prior to that time, states were given the authority to regulate wolf populations, which prompted Wisconsin to offer a limited hunting season for the animals.

Recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows that the overwinter minimum wolf count in the state during the past year was between 925 and 956. That’s an increase of about seven percent from the same time last year.

The agency estimates that the number of wolf packs also grew in the past year to 232, about 10 more than 12 months earlier.