New bill introduced to delist gray wolves in Upper Midwest

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has introduced a new bill to delist the gray wolf population in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act would create an advisory committee comprised of agriculture representatives, Native and Tribal communities, heads of impacted state agencies, and wolf management experts and scientists to create the final delisting rule for the region.

“I have long supported commonsense efforts to delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin because the science shows that the population has recovered in the Great Lakes region. While other parts of the country have different wolf populations and management needs, this legislation will allow our agriculture, Tribal, scientific, and impacted communities to come together to create a solution that works for Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act is a deliberate approach that follows the science and gives impacted communities a seat at the table as we work together to be responsible stewards of Wisconsin’s gray wolf population.”

The tri-state region’s wolf population has been determined, and has rebounded to the point where state management is appropriate.

The advisory committee would also be involved in the five-year post-delisting monitoring period, which ensures that the status of the wolves does not decline. If there is an increase in threats or a decline in population, there would be plans and measures in place to halt the decline so that relisting is not necessary.

The Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act would require the following:

  • Define the Northern Great Lakes Region: Expand the Minnesota population segment currently listed as “threatened,” which has remained in place since 1978 except for periods of complete delisting, to statutorily include Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  • Create a Northern Great Lakes Region Gray Wolf Advisory Committee: Require the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish the Northern Great Lakes Region Gray Wolf Advisory Committee, which will include membership from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service, federally recognized Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, heads of impacted-state agencies, and experts of wolf biology, management, and predation.
  • Re-Draft Gray Wolf Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan (PDMP): Require the USFWS to redraft the outdated 2008 PDMP for the gray wolf as it applies to the Northern Great Lakes Region population, in consultation with the Committee both during the drafting process and during the 5-year period post delisting.
  • Issue a Gray Wolf Delisting Rule: Require the issuance of a delisting rule for gray wolves in the Northern Great Lakes Region, which shall be drafted in consultation with the Committee, in order to successfully, and in the long term, return the species to state management in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

“Wolf populations are no longer endangered, and in fact exceed the national delisting criteria in the Midwest. All these wolves represent a vibrant and dramatic tribute to the success of the Endangered Species Act. Wisconsin Farmers Union supports the delisting of wolves as an endangered species and supports return to state control of wolf management,” said Michelle Ramirez-White, Policy Coordinator at the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

“As with any regulation of wild animal species, proper management not only ensures the proliferation of healthy populations of that species but assists in the appropriate balance of other species that share Wisconsin’s waters and woods with them. The wolf population in the Northern Great Lake region additionally affects livestock and deprivation by wolves is a daily issue that many farmers in the state of Wisconsin deal with,” said Tim Zindl, President of the Wisconsin Game Preserve Association. “The delisting of Wolves is long overdue and will be a monumental step in the proper management of the resources we so cherish.”