I have been a supporter of Wisconsin’s wolf recovery for a couple of decades. When I began working, as a volunteer monitoring wolves, only 249 wolves resided in Wisconsin (cited from Progress Report of Wolf Population Monitoring in Wisconsin for the period of April – September 2000). During this time, I have seen it all:

1. Wolves listed as temporary to threatened status.

2. Bear hound hunters ignoring WDNR wolf caution warnings, resulting in over $500,000 dollars in reimbursement costs and many dead dogs.

3. Multiple threats to delist the wolf.

 The year, 2015, began happily with the return of the Great Lakes wolf under federal protection after 3 years of trophy hunts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The year ended with good news as well, as a rider was excluded from the federal omnibus bill that would have delisted them (Cited from WODCW blog Great Lakes Wolf News Highlights of the Year 2015)

Another threat to the Great Lakes wolf lies within the outcome of an appeal filed on behalf of several organizations:

“Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed notices – although it acknowledged that the final decision on whether to pursue the case would be made by the Department of Justice. On Feb. 26, Wisconsin filed an appeal, and a day later, Michigan’s DNR also filed. Now add Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Safari Club International, the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, the Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to the list…The joint effort is an attempt to repeal the December 2014 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell that returned wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – to the endangered species list. The judge’s ruling put an end to wolf management hunts and mandated that people can only kill a wolf in self-defense, but not to protect pets or livestock.” (Cited from Michigan Outdoor News, Appeals mount following court’s wolf ruling by Bill Parker Editor on March 12, 2015)

A decision could be forthcoming from this appeal within the next 2 months. Thus, Great Lakes wolves are not out of the woods yet; read on:

“The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal…The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.” Cited from Budget Bill Won’t Have Wolf Management Returning To Minn.)

Humane Society of the United States has filed multiple suits to keep wolves under federal protection on the ESA and won those battles. HSUS’s hard work and efforts has kept the Great Lakes wolf protected for now. 

I’m keeping tabs on HSUS for any news about the appeals decision. 

Read the following press releases from HSUS: 

Humane society opposes wolf delisting

In the War Over Management of Wolves, The HSUS Won’t Shrink from Effort to Protect Them
Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over
Wisconsin Voters Support Protecting Wolves by 8 to 1 Margin New poll shows Wisconsin voters statewide oppose a reckless trophy hunt of wolves
October 15, 2012 The Humane Society of the United States Files Notice of Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves

The following is a timeline from HSUS: 

April 2012 – July 2012 – Wisconsin enacts legislation mandating a wolf hunting and trapping season, requiring that the state wildlife agency authorize the use of dogs, night hunting, and snare and leg-hold traps. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 201 wolves.

July 2011 – August 2012 –
Minnesota enacts legislation allowing a wolf hunting and trapping season once the wolves are delisted. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 400 wolves.

December 2011 –
USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

September 2010 –
The USFWS issues a finding that petitions to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region “may be warranted.”

July 2009 –
The HSUS enters into a court-approved settlement agreement with the USFWS that reinstated federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region.

June 2009 –
The HSUS files suit in federal court to block the delisting decision.

April 2009 –
USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

September 2008 –
In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and other organizations, a federal court overturned the USFWS’ Great Lakes delisting decision, thereby reinstating federal protections for gray wolves in the region.

February 2007 –
The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes. 

2005 – 2006 –
The USFWS tries to strip wolves of protection by issuing blanket permits to the state of Wisconsin that authorize state officials to kill dozens of wolves. These permits are thrown out by a federal court in response to a lawsuit by The HSUS. 

January 2005 –
A federal court rules that the 2003 downlisting was arbitrary and capricious, returning the wolf to endangered status. 

2003 –
USFWS issues a final rule downgrading most of the gray wolves living in the lower 48 states from endangered to threatened, making it easier for people to lethally take wolves. 

1974 – Gray wolf listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act throughout the lower 48 states.

1967 – Wolves listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 – the precursor to the Endangered Species Act.