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WI: Bill would remove gray wolf from endangered list

MADISON (WKOW)– Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) introduced a bill this week to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in four states, including Wisconsin, which would once again allow the animal to be hunted in the state.

In 2011 the gray wolf was removed from the endangered list and hunted for three hunting seasons. But in 2014 a judge overturned the decision and put the animal back on the list. Sen. Johnson is not only asking for the wolf to again be removed from the endangered list, but the bill would also prohibit a court from overturning the decision again.

In a statement Sen. Johnson said,”…the ongoing efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere to properly manage the wolf levels are working well. Simply put, wolves in these four states are no longer endangered and do not need the protections the ESA afforded them in the past.”

But groups like the Endangered Species Coalition maintain wolves are still endangered in the area, and face threats like poaching, being hit by cars and other wolves.

“If you take away hunting, the number one threat to wolves are other wolves,” said Melissa Smith, the Great Lakes director of the Endangered Species coalition. “So they have a self limiting population. They can’t have an explosion of population. They’re too territorial for that. So as pray goes down, wolves get competitive. Their pups almost all die every year. They have a really high mortality rate.”

Sen. Johnson says his bill would not prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from returning the wolf to the endangered list if the population is threatened again. The bill would remove wolves from the endangered list, not just in Wisconsin, but also in Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming. There is similar legislation pending in the house.