Obama Administration Sides with Hunters over Protection of Gray Wolves

Tuesday, March 03, 2015
(photo: AP/National Park Service)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under President Barack Obama believes it is okay for hunters and ranchers to begin killing gray wolves again, a species that nearly went extinct last century.


FWS filed court documents with a Washington, DC-based court of appeals saying it opposed a federal judge’s decision to restore legal protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region.


The Obama administration is joined by two states, Michigan and Wisconsin, which also objected to U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s ruling in December that said the states’ management plans for the wolves don’t do enough to protect the species. Howell’s ruling also applied to the management plan developed by Minnesota. The plans in all three states allow sports hunting; in Michigan and Wisconsin they also permit the trapping of wolves.


FWS spokeswoman Laury Parramore told the Associated Press: “The science clearly shows that wolves are recovered in the Great Lakes region, and we believe the Great Lakes states have clearly demonstrated their ability to effectively manage their wolf populations.”


But Howell believes more needs to be done for the animals.


The judge wrote that the Endangered Species Act (pdf) “offers the broadest possible protections for endangered species by design. This law reflects the commitment by the United States to act as a responsible steward of the Earth's wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult for the localities where an endangered or threatened species resides.”


Russ Mason, wildlife division chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, told AP that some sort of controls are needed for farmers to protect their livestock from predator wolves. A coalition of environmental groups has proposed most of the wolves be reclassified from “endangered” to “threatened,” which would allow livestock managers to kill them when they repeatedly attack farm animals. The Humane Society of the United States supports that position as a reasonable “middle ground.”


However, a recent study by at Washington State University determined that the killing of wolves that attack livestock actually brings about an increase in such wolf attacks.


The combined wolf population in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin is about 3,700. The national population is believed to be less than 17,000. Nine states are considered by scientists to be Great Lakes wolves’ territory. Alaska has the largest gray wolf population.


Since 2003, the U.S. government has made four attempts to end protection of the wolves, and each time its effort was overturned in court.


Although FWS has already filed documents with the court, an agency spokesperson said that a final decision on whether to pursue the case has yet to be made by the U.S. Department of Justice.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

2 States, Feds Appealing Judge's Ruling On Great Lakes Wolves (by John Flesher, Associated Press)

Feds Appeal Judge's Order To Protect Gray Wolves (by Renee Lews, Al Jazeera America)

Wolf Report Documents 20 Percent Population Increase (by George Plaven, East Oregonian)

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reinstatement of Final Rules for the Gray Wolf in Wyoming and the Western Great Lakes in Compliance With Court Orders (Fish and Wildlife Service) (pdf)

Bills Would Drop Federal Protections For Wolves In 4 States (by John Flesher, Associated Press)

California Grants Protected Status to Nonexistent Gray Wolf (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Wyoming Ranchers Knock Gray Wolf Off Endangered Species List (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

See all 32 comments


Isabel walker 5 years ago
What a shame. And I respected Obama
Ryan Myles 6 years ago
I don't care how long it's been. When I die, I would want to have my words, a part of my essence, here. The killing of wolves, whether directly or indirectly by buidling over the soil for the oppressive expansion of humans , needs to be stopped, by all the means at our disposal.
B. Jones 8 years ago
I must say, this is a true disappointment and may mar the legacy of President Obama. I would sign a petition any day, moment or hour. Shame on everyone who stands behind this decision. And believe me, I do not use the word shame as I didn't believe it in before.
joe quellman 8 years ago
another dogmatic disastrous decision not unlike iran nukes. think barack hussein obama's muslim roots are all determinative?
jeremy 8 years ago
Mr.President you are the end of our human life. If you tamper with the ecosystem you make it fall a part. animals are like blocks you mess with one they all fall.
makayla 8 years ago
Mr.president wolves are an important part of our ecosystem. Without them, the economy will fall apart. You have failed us
Dina 9 years ago
I agree with the President. It's great that wolves have been reintroduced but with that also comes managing the populaiton responsibly.
kathleen sullivan 9 years ago
Mr. President, You failed our great nation by allowing hunters and ranchers to begin killing gray wolves again, a species that nearly went extinct last century. The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -Ghandi —
M. RUTH SMITH 9 years ago
Sam Lobo 9 years ago
Wolves do not belong in states like Illinois where they will on average cause issues well above 100%......disgusting people pimp wolves for controversy.......controversy gets the gullible to press "donate now" buttons and provides cover for abuse of the Endangered Species Act. 20 Northern WI Co boards have passed resolutions against the wolf and any changes to the states wolf management plan (WHICH was developed by science) Reform of the easily abuse Endangered Species Act is desperately needed. A Federal Government 18 trillion in debt doesn't need to be spending money on an animal that is not Endangered in any way shape or form.

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