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Gray wolf delisting? 'Here we go!" says USFWS

September 17, 2010
By Tim Kobasic

ESCANABA - The title on the e-mail of Sept. 14 simply stated "Here we go!"

It was the copied Notice of Petition issued through the USDA Fish & Wildlife Services, 90-Day Finding on Petitions To Delist the Gray Wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Western Great Lakes.

The document and action is based on review finding that petitions submitted to date "present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that removing the gray wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan from the (endangered species) list may be warranted.

This time they're jumping through the necessary hoops that de-railed the process the last time. In fact it was the sixth time the Humane Society of the United States with the help of a publicly paid legal firm had used a technicality to stop delisting. Thus the message "Here we go!"

Contained within the document is a deadline, "based on the status review" and how the USFWS will issue a 12-month finding on the petitions already received and will accept more testimony until Nov. 150. The date seems kind of ironic, doesn't it?

Once completed the USFWS is "required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species (status review). The scientific factors looked for within the review are:

1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including: (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding and sheltering; (b) Genetics and taxonomy; (c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns; (d) Historical and current population levels, and current projected trends; and (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its habitat or both.

The factors that are the basis for making a delisting determination for a species are all part of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and incorporates the threat or loss of natural habitat, over utilization disease or predation, The Inadequacy of Exisiting Regulatory Mechanisms, and the extent of adequacy of Federal, State, and tribal protection that would be provided to the wolf in the western Great Lakes region and their impacts.

All of this is then combined to determine if a distinct population segments exists or entitles that which may be removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the Act.

What is important here is that simple personal letters of endorsement to de-list will not play a significant role in the decision making. The USDA states that, "although noted, (private letters) will not be considered in making a determination."

It is here that Federal, State and conservation organizations, like the UP Sportsmen's Alliance who have reached amicus status, will be looked at to represent the general population in the consideration.

It assures that the determination must be made "solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available."

Adding to the public support for delisting is a recent proclamation issued by Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. He says he'll negotiate until Oct. 7 with the federal government on a plan to manage wolves in his state.

If no pact comes about, Otter says Idaho will no longer be designated agent for monitoring, providing law enforcement or investigating wolf deaths.

The ultimatum was delivered in person to US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Washington, D.C. this week.

The action was prompted from a decision made in August that restored federal protections to wolves in Idaho and Montana - over both of their objections.

Their focus was on lethal controls for depredation when they (wolves) impact livestock and essential big game (elk populations). They have approximately 850 wolves in the entire state of Idaho. We have an approximate population of 600 wolves just in the UP.

I couldn't agree more. In fact I'd like to see Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan Governors join a pact to state they will continue to do the work under the condition that delisting occurs. If not, they should send the bill to HSUS, demanding prepayment or stop their programs cold turkey!

No one wants to see wolves eliminated. Unless control measures, including conversion to being a game species, broad reaching pocket areas will continue to see some devastation like those experienced by area farmers in Menominee County.

To think or imply that hunters will wipe out the wolves in the Great Lakes Region should control authority be granted to the states is absurd.

The UPSA continues to be represented by the legal firm of Strom/Strom PC, who represented UP conservationists during the 1836 Inland Treaty decree. Funding contributions are needed to continue the cause.

This time around, it is more important to write a check than a letter or e-mail.

Contributions can be mailed to: UPSA Wolf Delisting Fund, c/o Dan Absolon, 598 Premo Creek Road, Crystal Falls, 49920.

Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.



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