For Immediate Release, October 26, 2010
Contact: Collette Adkins Giese, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821
Fish and Wildlife Service Asked to Refuse State Requests to
Remove Protections for Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Humane Society of the United States submitted comments today telling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wolves in the Great Lakes region still need Endangered Species Act protection. The comments respond to petitions from state wildlife managers and sport-hunting groups asking the agency to remove protections from wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Since 2003, conservation organizations have won repeated court victories upholding federal protection for Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains wolves.
“The job of recovering the gray wolf is far from finished,” said attorney and biologist Collette Adkins Giese of the Center. “Although tremendous strides have been made toward recovering wolves in the Great Lakes, more action is needed to ensure their future in the region is secure and to restore them to a larger portion of their former range and abundance.”
Wolves occupy 5 percent of their original range in the lower 48 states and number a small fraction of the approximately 2 million wolves believed to have once roamed the continent.
“It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have wolves in our woods, where they help keep the balance,” said Adkins Giese. “But these highly social animals are still gone from most of their historic range, including excellent habitats where they’re needed to restore damaged ecosystems. Wolves shouldn’t be stripped of protection before achieving national recovery.”
The conservationists’ comments raise significant concerns about state laws and regulations in the three states that were specifically crafted to increase wolf mortality after removal of federal protections. The comments also point to the continuing loss of wolf pups to canine parvovirus and concerns that hybridization between gray wolves, eastern wolves and coyotes may disrupt unique wolf attributes thousands of years in the making.
“Wolf conservation in our region is more complex than previously understood,” said Adkins Giese. “Until we deal with the threats these animals face, including disease, hybridization and killing by people, it’s premature to lift federal protections.”
The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service this summer requesting development of a nationwide wolf recovery plan to restore wolves to all significant portions of their range, including places within the Pacific Northwest and California; the deserts and canyons of the Colorado Plateau and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains; the Great Plains; and New England.