By Associated Press
Duluth, Minn. — Federal officials have pledged money to restart the wolf trapping program in Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has promised money from his agency’s operating budget for the program, which ran out of money Friday and shut down, Klobuchar told the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/qijSn2 ).
“Secretary Vilsack has assured me that he has found the money to extend the program out to the end of the year,” said Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We need this program to keep Minnesota livestock and residents safe. . The gap in that coverage was unacceptable.”
The USDA has been trapping and killing wolves in Minnesota since 1978. Last year, 192 wolves were killed. Federal officials estimate there are about 3,200 wolves in Minnesota, where the species is classified as threatened, about 800 in Wisconsin and 700 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The wolves first received federal protection in 1974.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service want to “delist” wolves as an endangered species by the end of 2011 and give management back to state and tribal natural resource agencies. The state then could then more aggressively manage the wolf population, including allowing the public to shoot wolves that cause trouble.
The program extension was limited to Minnesota, according to USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman. USDA trapping efforts in 16 other states that are normally funded through earmarks, including Wisconsin, have not been restored.