June 30, 2009

Great Lake Wolves Added To FWS Endangered List Again

Just two months after the US Fish and Wildlife Service dropped its protection of wolves in the Great Lakes region, it announced it would add the animal back to its endangered list.

"The Service is withdrawing its 2009 decision to remove the Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species," the agency said.

The announcement comes as part of a settlement with five environmental and animal protection groups that had sued the agency earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.

"The Service has agreed to provide an additional opportunity for public comment on the rule," the agency said in a statement on its Web site. "Until the rule is finalized, wolves in the Western Great Lakes will again be protected by the Endangered Species Act once the court approves this agreement."

"In Minnesota, gray wolves will be considered threatened; elsewhere in the region, gray wolves will be designated as endangered," it said, adding that it would continue work with states and tribes on ways to better manage the wolf population.

The agency admitted that gray wolves in the Western Great lakes region have "exceeded recovery goals and continue to thrive under state management," but it agreed with plaintiffs that "additional public review and comment was required under federal law prior to making that final decision."

"Wolves in the western Great Lakes have met the recovery criteria and don't need to be listed," Georgia Parham, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service told the AP, adding that the agency initially thought a 90-day public comment period was sufficient.

Activist groups that had sued the agency heralded the decision as a chance to increase the conservation effort for endangered wolves.

"This agreement will give the administration a much-needed opportunity to reconsider the failed wolf-management policies of the past, and hopefully put to rest the states' reckless plans to start sport hunting and trapping imperiled wolves," said Jonathan Lovvorn, a vice president of the Humane Society, which was among the five groups that filed suit.


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