Senators Working To Delist Gray Wolves in Great Lakes and Wyoming

by Matthew Memrick
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After a California judge’s ruling last month, a group of bipartisan senators is working to delist gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming.

The surprise ruling on Feb. 10 put the gray wolves back on the federally protected list throughout the continental United States, except the Northern Rockies.

Field and Stream said the recent ruling reversed a 2020 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist gray wolves then. That reversal came after a lawsuit of several environmental groups.

Wyoming, Wisconsin Behind Latest Delisting Push

This time around, Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Tammy Baldwin (D-Illinois), and Wyoming Republican senators Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso want the delisting but only in their particular regions. 

Baldwin, noting her long-running support of delisting the gray wolf in Wisconsin since 2011, said the science is precise. Gray wolves are back!

The senator said the animal’s recovery in the Great Lakes region means the federal government “should return management to the State of Wisconsin” of the gray wolf. 

Senators Could Get Gray Wolf Delisted Again

All these technicalities for thousands of American gray wolves, right?

Here’s a quick look at the animal’s history. Scientific American said the gray wolf was at the brink of extinction because of excessive hunting and climate change. Then, the animal ended up on the 1973 Endangered Species Act list. Consequently, the numbers recovered. There are about 7,500 gray wolves in the continental United States since 2020. Estimates in Canada have the animal up to 60,000 where they’re considered a big game species.

The Department of Interior rules will revert to its 2011 act delisting gray wolves in the western Great Lakes if the senators get their way. Wyoming’s delisting happened in 2012. However, federal officials threw out that decision in 2017.

The state still controls Wyoming gray wolves because they live in a part of the Northern Rockies. The Cowboy State’s trying to be proactive with their inclusion in the bill. But you never can know with anti-hunting groups who started a lawsuit to bring the wolves back.  

This new bill would block any more court reversals by not allowing “judicial review” of the other reissued rules. So, take that. Don’t you just love legalese?

Senator Johnson issued a statement, reminding everyone about his seven-year fight to delist the gray wolf.

“State wildlife agencies should manage the recovered population, so the wolf’s ongoing role in the ecosystem does not come at the expense of farmers, loggers, sportsmen, and people who simply live in these areas,” the man said. 

Will other states join in the fight? Nobody knows for sure yet. But Baldwin’s support of the bill could mean that other moderate Democrats could get behind the measure in Congress. 

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