People and Wolves: The latest News Concerning Several Wolf Delisting Bills in the Senate and House

Art by Mark Adlington


To date, there are three wolf delisting bills. One is in the House, and two in the Senate. This is the latest in “A Wisconsin story mired in political intrigue.”  People & Wolves is working to bring the entire story to the big screen, is wrapping up production this summer, and moving toward post-production in the Fall.

The film tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people learn to coexist as these native predators are again fulfilling their ecological role after returning to the state about 45 years ago. 

This documentary will examine the people involved, between several opposing forces for over a decade, culminating in court battles.  The film features Adrian Wydeven, Marvin DeFoe, Peter David, Michael Waasagiizhig Price,  Patrick Durkin, and Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, including interviews with farmers, hunters, WDNR staff, and Ojibwe tribal members. 

The Trailer



The following is information on all three bills in the Senate and House Regarding Gray Wolves Delisting.

The following is from Congressman Tom Tiffany’s office regarding their bill: WASHINGTON, DC – Reps. Tom Tiffany (WI-07) and Lauren Boebert (CO-03) led 21 Members of Congress in introducing the Trust the Science Act to permanently delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 and ensure that action is not subject to judicial review.

Congressman Tom Tiffany stated, “Despite the fact that the gray wolf has recovered well past its recovery goal post, radical environmentalists, with help from a California judge, have re-listed the gray wolf, posing an ongoing threat to livestock, farmers, and pet owners in Wisconsin. The Biden administration must follow the science, as they claim to do, by having Secretary Haaland remove ESA protections from species no longer warranting them.”

The Trust the Science Act requires the Secretary of Interior to reissue the 2020 Department of the Interior final rule that delisted gray wolves in the lower 48 United States and ensures that the reissuance of the final rule will not be subject to judicial review.

In 2020, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States through a process that included the best science and data available. At over 6,000 wolves at the time of delisting, the gray wolf has been the latest Endangered Species Act success story with recoveries with significant populations in the Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes regions.

An activist California judge vacated the final 2020 rule back to the Service thereby restoring ESA protections for the gray wolf across most of the United States.

Gray wolf populations have fully recovered according to career officials who work for the Department of Interior currently and made the delisting decision based on the best available science.

Reps. Tom Tiffany and Lauren Boebert led 21 Members of Congress in introducing the Trust the Science Act, including: Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Jack Bergman (MI-01), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Scott Perry (PA-10), Matt Rosendale (MT-02), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Brian Steil (WI-01), Ken Buck (CO-04), John Moolenaar (MI-04), and Tom Emmer (MN-06).

Groups supporting the Trust the Science Act include: Alaska Farm Bureau Federation, BigGame Forever, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Livestock Association, Colorado Wool Growers Association, House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Mid States Wool Growers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Lamb & Wool Producers Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, National Rifle Association (NRA), New Mexico Wool Growers Inc., Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Safari Club International (SCI), Washington Farm Bureau, Western Caucus, Wisconsin Cattleman’s Association, and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

The full text of the Trust the Science Act is available here.

The Second Gray Wolves delisting Bill.

The following is a statement from Senator Baldwin’s office regarding their bill:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act, new legislation to develop a regional-specific plan based in science to delist the gray wolf population in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The legislation would create an advisory committee comprised of members representing agriculture, Native and Tribal communities, heads of impacted-state agencies, and wolf management experts and scientists to create the final delisting rule for the region.

“I have long supported commonsense efforts to delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin because the science shows that the population has recovered in the Great Lakes region. While other parts of the country have different wolf populations and management needs, this legislation will allow our agriculture, Tribal, scientific, and impacted communities to come together to create a solution that works for Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act is a deliberate approach that follows the science and gives impacted communities a seat at the table as we work together to be responsible stewards of Wisconsin’s gray wolf population.”

The region the legislation outlines includes Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the wolf population has been determined to have rebounded to the point where state management is appropriate.

The advisory committee would also be involved in the five-year post-delisting monitoring period, which ensures that the status of the species does not decline or, if an increase in threats or decline in the population do occur, there are plans and measures in place to halt the decline so that relisting is not necessary.

The Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act would require the following:

  • Define the Northern Great Lakes Region: Expand the Minnesota population segment currently listed as “threatened,” which has remained in place since 1978 except for periods of complete delisting, to statutorily include Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  • Create a Northern Great Lakes Region Gray Wolf Advisory Committee: Require the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish the Northern Great Lakes Region Gray Wolf Advisory Committee, which will include membership from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service, federally recognized Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, heads of impacted-state agencies, and experts of wolf biology, management, and predation.
  • Re-Draft Gray Wolf Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan (PDMP): Require the USFWS to redraft the outdated 2008 PDMP for the gray wolf as it applies to the Northern Great Lakes Region population, in consultation with the Committee both during the drafting process and during the 5-year period post delisting.
  • Issue a Gray Wolf Delisting Rule: Require the issuance of a delisting rule for gray wolves in the Northern Great Lakes Region, which shall be drafted in consultation with the Committee, in order to successfully, and in the long term, return the species to state management in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act is supported by the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Soybean Growers, Wisconsin Soybean Growers, Whitetails of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Game Preserve Association, Wisconsin Cattleman’s Association, and Wisconsin Corn Growers Association.

“Wolf populations are no longer endangered, and in fact exceed the national delisting criteria in the Midwest. All these wolves represent a vibrant and dramatic tribute to the success of the Endangered Species Act. Wisconsin Farmers Union supports the delisting of wolves as an endangered species and supports return to state control of wolf management,” said Michelle Ramirez-White, Policy Coordinator at the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

“As with any regulation of wild animal species, proper management not only ensures the proliferation of healthy populations of that species but assists in the appropriate balance of other species that share Wisconsin’s waters and woods with them. The wolf population in the Northern Great Lake region additionally affects livestock and deprivation by wolves is a daily issue that many farmers in the state of Wisconsin deal with,” said Tim Zindl, President of the Wisconsin Game Preserve Association. “The delisting of Wolves is long overdue and will be a monumental step in the proper management of the resources we so cherish.”

“Wisconsin Corn Growers support reforms to the Endangered Species Act which would result in the responsible management of our state’s grey wolf population,” said Mark Hoffmann, President of Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. “We support Senator Baldwin’s approach to wolf management that will work for Wisconsin’s agricultural community because the livestock damages related to the wolf population affect our industry outputs.”

“The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation supports legislation de-listing gray wolf populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” said Kevyn Quamme, President of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. “WWF welcomes Senator Tammy Baldwin’s legislation to require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director to update the Monitoring Plan under the Endangered Species Act.”

A one-pager on this legislation is available here. The full text of this legislation is available here.

The Third Gray Wolves Delisting Bill.

The following is from Senator Ron Johnson’s office regarding the reintroduction of their bill:

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), along with three of his Republican colleagues, reintroduced legislation to return management of gray wolf populations to the states and delist the gray wolf as endangered and threatened wildlife under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

“Control of the gray wolf population must be returned to state wildlife agencies, who can best handle the recovered population,” said Sen. Johnson. “This legislation would do just that and provide relief for the farmers, loggers, sportsmen, and others that are most impacted by the gray wolf.”

The legislation comes after a previous federal court ruling in 2022 that restored endangered species protection for the gray wolf in the lower 48 states, rolling back policies supported by the current and previous administrations. Since 2015, Sen. Johnson has advocated a narrow approach to delist the gray wolf and allow wolf management plans that are based on state wildlife expertise.

Sen. Johnson is joined on this legislation by Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

The full text of the bill can be found here.

Historical background and timetable for WI gray wolves’ listing/down-listing/delisting efforts.

In 1979, WI DNR started formal monitoring and research on the state wolf population, which has been ongoing. Unlike reintroduced gray wolves in western states like ID, MT & WY, FWS had little involvement in this effort.  While there was consultation and ESA funding that assisted WI DNR, the actual field work was mostly done by state workers.  In the early 1980s, some federal wolf trappers helped capture and radio-collaring wolves, but the majority of work was done by WI DNR employees.  FWS provided ESA funds to support wolf recovery in WI through 2003, but since that time, ESA funding has been sporadic.  WI DNR has especially relied on PR (Pitman-Robertson) Funding, which are federal monies shared with states for the conservation of birds and mammals, although some states only use these funds for game species.


The WI DNR produced a state gray wolf recovery plan in 1989 and developed a state management plan for gray wolves in 1999.  The WI DNR is currently developing a new management and conservation plan for gray wolves in the state. 

From Adrian Wydeven, who headed up Wisconsin’s state gray wolf recovery and conservation program from 1990 through 2013.

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