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Gray Wolf May Be Reclassified
John Pepin / The Mining Journal / December 20, 2005

Marquette- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on new federal proposals to reclassify gray wolves from endangered to threatened species across several states, including Michigan.
Last week, the Justice Department withdrew Fish and Wildlife Service appeals to U.S. District Court rulings made earlier this year in Oregon and Vermont.

Those rulings struck down a 2003 wolf reclassification proposal that would have changed the wolf's federal status across much of its United States range.

Instead of continuing to oppose the court rulings, the Fish and Wildlife Service will rework its proposals, focusing reclassification more narrowly on wolf populations in the Upper Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains.

"We are exploring options for managing wolf populations that comply with the courts' rulings, while recognizing, as the courts did, that the Yellowstone and Great Lakes wolf populations have reached the recovery goals necessary for delisting," said Craig Manson, assistant secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The federal goal for wolf recovery in Michigan and Wisconsin was reached about a decade ago - 100 wolves on non-reservation lands, excluding Isle Royale National Park.

A state recovery goal for Michigan of 200 wolves for five years has also been surpassed. Wolves are currently listed as a threatened species in Michigan by the state.

Brian Roell, wolf coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Marquette, said the new proposal would simply involve the federal status of wolves.

"This will be nothing to do with our ability to control wolves," Roell said.

The proposal would make wolves a threatened species in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin under the federal Endangered Species Act.

However, if the status is changed, states with wolf populations classified as threatened could then ask for the power to control or remove problem wolves.

Roell said one criticism of the prior federal delisting proposal was that it was too broad geographically, lumping the range of wolves in the eastern U.S. together, including wolf populations from North Dakota to Maine.

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