Interior Secretary Announces Wolf Plan

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar formally announced his department’s plan to remove the eastern gray wolf from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act and return management of the animal to state and tribal governments by the end of this year.

“Like other iconic species such as the whooping crane, the brown pelican, and the bald eagle, the recovery of the gray wolf is another success story of the Endangered Species Act,” Salazar said in a media release. “The gray wolf’s biological recovery reflects years of work by scientists, wildlife managers, and our state, tribal, and stakeholder partners to bring wolf populations back to healthy levels.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildllife Service had announced the plans in April, HERE, to remove the animal from federal protection.

Yesterday’s formal announcement marked the fourth time the federal government has attempted to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List. Court rulings have thwarted previous attempts to delist the animal which has enjoyed federal protections since 1974. Surveys estimate the wolf population in Minnesota at 3,000 animals. Wisconsin and Michigan, together, are home to an estimated 1,200 additional animals.

The full Department of the Interior media release can be found HERE.

There’s additional information on the matter, HERE, in the Duluth News Tribune story on the proposal.

The announcement initiates a 60-day public comment period. Officials expect to finalize the delisting plan by the end of the year. Actions to remove protection of the animal began in 2000. The last attempt to do so was finalized in the spring of 2009, but the plan was later withdrawn in response to another legal challenge. Time will tell whether the latest plan will face a court test.

Citizens can submit written comments on the proposal either via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, HERE, or by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. [FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments via e-mail or fax are not accepted.

Comments must be received on or before July 5, 2011. The USFWS will post all comments HERE.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for May 18 in Ashland, Wisconsin. More information on the hearing will be available HERE.

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