Category Archives: Endangered Species Act

US Senators seek to remove federal protection for the gray wolf

Credit: John E. Marriott

Senators from Wisconsin and Wyoming have introduced bipartisan legislation which would return gray wolf management to the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.  It also reaffirms the current delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming.  This bill follows a recent decision from a federal court in California which returned the gray wolf to federal protection in much of the lower-48 states. 

Adrian Wydeven, a retired Wisconsin DNR biologist, is not surprised by the recent action.  “When wolves were relisted last month, I [believed] legislative delisting would likely be attempted in the Great Lakes region as it had occurred in the Northern Rockies,” Wydeven said. Unlike federal agencies, Congress can limit the authority of courts to review its delisting action – as is the case with the current bill.  

This legislative effort comes as the Wisconsin DNR is currently working to finalize a new Wolf Management Plan.  The last state wolf management plan was approved in 1999, with some slight modifications added in 2007. Wisconsin abandoned work to rewrite the plan in 2015. This bill also follows the February 2021 wolf hunt during which 218 wolves were killed, 83% more than the state quota allowed.  Per Wisconsin law, anytime the gray wolf is not under federal or state protection, the state is mandated to hold a wolf hunt.

Legislative delisting is not new.  In 2011, Congress required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the decision to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies, except for Wyoming.  In 2012, the agency  did delist wolves in Wyoming; however, this rule was vacated by a federal district court in 2014 and later reinstated by a federal appeals court in 2017.  Prior to the reinstatement, Wyoming’s congressional delegation had sought to legislatively require delisting of wolves in the state.  The newly introduced legislation, co-sponsored by both Wyoming Senators, does not allow for  judicial review of the decision to delist the animal in Wyoming.  In 2018, then-Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) sponsored the Manage Our Wolves Act which sought to remove federal protections for gray wolves in the lower-48 states.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives but was not taken up in the Senate.

How the recent bill’s introduction may be leveraged for political purposes remains an open question. While bipartisan, it comes just months ahead of the 2022 midterm election in which Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the only co-sponsor on the ballot. His challenger will be determined in the August 2022 primary.

Those interested in learning more or contacting sponsoring Senators can do so via the following links: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Cynthia Lummis ( R-WY).

Gray Wolves Regain Federal Protection

Gray wolves in much of the lower 48 have regained federal protection  following a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Photo Credit: John E. Marriott

In the final months of the Trump administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a rule that delisted the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act.  Gray wolves were also previously delisted through the Bush (2007), and Obama Administrations (2009, 2012). The 2020 delisting was hailed by the then-Administration as a success story and defended in Federal Court by the Biden Administration.  As a result of the 2020 effort, the gray wolf returned to state and tribal management throughout the U.S. after over 40 years of federal protection.

Gray wolf recovery “depends on the cooperation of wildlife managers at the state, tribal and federal levels, and a reliance on the best available science to guide management decisions.”                                               – Secretary Haaland, Department of the Interior


On February 10, 2022, Judge Jeffrey White of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued an ruling which nullified the delisting of the gray wolf and restored federal protection for the animal in much of the U.S.  Gray wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming were previously delisted and not the subject of the Judge’s opinion. Similarly, Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico were never delisted and never lost federal protection. However, as ordered by Judge White, a George W. Bush appointee, management of gray wolves in the lower 48 outside of the Northern Rockies will once again be in the hands of the Federal Government. The ruling comes days after Interior Secretary Deb Haaland wrote of the successes of gray wolf conservation and that their recovery “depends on the cooperation of wildlife managers at the state, tribal and federal levels, and a reliance on the best available science to guide management decisions.” 

The 2020 delisting of the gray wolf was heralded by some and scorned by others.  It was this rule that began a legal challenge that ultimately resulted in the February 2021 wolf hunt in Wisconsin – a hunt that garnered headlines for the speed at which the hunting quota was achieved and surpassed.  A Dane County Wisconsin judge later blocked a Fall 2021 wolf hunt holding that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must first propose a rule for wolf hunting that would need to be approved by the legislature.  With Judge White’s federal order, Wisconsin’s state managed wolf hunt is foreclosed, for the moment. 

Whether the Biden Administration will appeal Judge White’s order remains an open question as is Wisconsin’s update to the state’s Wolf Management Plan. The state’s current plan was developed in 1999 and updated in 2007. However, the DNR had been working toward a new update to the plan in 2022. 

“I hope the DNR will move forward…and clarify what the management goals for the state ought to be.”          – Adrian Wydeven, retired DNR Wolf Biologist


Rachel Tilseth, founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, believes there is still work to do. The gray wolf “may be protected again (blessing) but nothing’s changed. Still have the same fight between pro and anti-wolf organizations with no compromise.  The work must continue to write a comprehensive wolf management plan that takes into account all stakeholders,” Tilseth writes. 

Adrian Wydeven, a retired Wisconsin DNR wolf biologist, hopes that Wisconsin will complete the wolf management plan update. “I hope the DNR will move forward…and clarify what the management goals for the state ought to be,” Wydeven said. He also expressed hope “to see states manage wolves [once again] but to do so more responsibly and without politics.” 

Whether and when the states outside of the Northern Rockies will be responsible for the management of wolves is likely the subject of additional litigation and rulemaking. For now, the gray wolf in much of the lower 48 is under federal management and protection. 


Endangered Species Act has protected imperiled species and critical habitats since 1973

Photograph of a wolf from the Prospeck Peak pack in Yellowstone National Park, 2017,  by Beth Phillips 

In 1972, President Nixon declared that conservation efforts in the United States aimed toward preventing the extinction of species were inadequate and called on the 93rd Congress to develop comprehensive endangered species legislation. Congress responded, and on December 28th, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 was signed into law. USF&WS

Wolves were first listed in 1967 in what became known as the precursor to the Endangered Species Act.  Then, in 1978 Gray wolves are listed at the species level under the Endangered Species Act as endangered throughout the coterminous United States and Mexico, except in Minnesota, where gray wolves were listed as threatened. HSUS

Did you know that federal protections of endangered species started with the Lacy Act of 1900? 

According to USF&WS, Congress passed the first wildlife law in response to growing public concern over the decline of the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius). 

The last Passenger Pigeon, named Martha died over a 100 years ago.

Martha at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
The ESA of 1973 was a real life saver for imperiled species, such as; the Timber Wolf – Canis lupus lycaon, Red Wolf – Canis niger and the Grizzly Bear – Ursus horribilis, to name a few of the first hundred or so of animals placed on the list. To view the full list of mammals, reptiles & amphibians, birds and fishes placed on the ESL go to USF&WS website.

For almost two centuries, American gray wolves, vilified in fact as well as fiction, were the victims of vicious government extermination programs. By the time the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, only a few hundred of these once-great predators were left in the lower 48 states.  ~Lydia Millet

A History of the Endangered Species Act of 1973

Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1966, providing a means for listing native animal species as endangered and giving them limited protection. The Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense were to seek to protect listed species, and, insofar as consistent with their primary purposes, preserve the habitats of such species. The Act also authorized the Service to acquire land as habitat for endangered species. In 1969, Congress amended the Act to provide additional protection to species in danger of “worldwide extinction” by prohibiting their importation and subsequent sale in the United States. This Act called for an international meeting to adopt a convention to conserve endangered species. One amendment to the Act changed its title to the Endangered Species Conservation Act. USF&WS

A curious bald eagle; official national bird of the United States (licensed image from BigStockPhoto). All State Birds

The bald eagle, one of the first species to receive protections under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act in 1967, has been removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the delisting of the bald eagle at a ceremony on Thursday, June 28, 2007, on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. After decades of conservation efforts, the bald eagle has exhibited a dramatic recovery, from a low of barely 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963, to nearly 10,000 nesting pairs today. The recovery and delisting of the nation’s symbol marks a major achievement in conservation. USF&WS

Defining Endangered Species Act of 1973. The following is from USF&WS website:

Later that year, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It
defined “endangered” and “threatened” [section 3];

-made plants and all invertebrates eligible for protection [section 3];

-applied broad “take” prohibitions to all endangered animal species and allowed the prohibitions to apply to threatened animal species by special regulation [section 9];

-required Federal agencies to use their authorities to conserve listed species and consult on “may affect” actions [section 7];

-prohibited Federal agencies from authorizing, funding, or carrying out any action that would jeopardize a listed species or destroy or modify its “critical habitat” [section 7];

-made matching funds available to States with cooperative agreements [section 6];

Photograph of Grizzly Bear by John E Marriott

Endangered Species Act is a success for all the imperiled species and critical habitats it protects.  

From 1973 to 2013, the Act prevented extinction 99 for percent of species under its protection. The Act has shown a 90 percent recovery rate in more than 100 species throughout the United States.The Act has allowed the designation of millions of acres of critical habitat, which is crucial to species’ survival and recovery. In fact, imperiled species with federally protected protected critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without. From Center for Biological Diversity, ESA facts

The purpose of the ESA

The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The FWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife such as whales and anadromons fish such as salmon. USF&WS website

Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened. For the purposes of the ESA, Congress defined species to include subspecies, varieties, and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments. USF&WS website

As a young boy, I was obsessed with endangered species and the extinct species that men killed off. Biology was the subject in school that I was incredibly passionate about. Leonardo DiCaprio

Keeping imperiled species such as the Gray wolf protected is an ongoing battle 

“One of the giants of environmentalism, Aldo Leopold, wrote about the “fierce green fire” he saw in a wolf’s eyes. I think what he was really talking about is wildness. For many people, the wolf is a symbol of wildness in our remaining wilderness. And for that reason, wolves are especially beloved by many people—they capture so much about the wild spirit that still is attractive to us. Despite our heavily developed and urbanized society, we still are attracted to that element of the wild that’s been with us through the millennia.”  ~Earthjustice

DIANE PAPINEAU / NATIONAL PARK SERVICE Schoolchildren at Yellowstone’s Roosevelt Arch welcome a truck transporting wolves, January 1995.
“The Endangered Species Act may be heading for the threatened list. This hearing confirmed it. A Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act” unfolded Wednesday just as supporters of the law had feared, with round after round of criticism from Republican lawmakers who said the federal effort to keep species from going extinct encroaches on states’ rights, is unfair to landowners and stymies efforts by mining companies to extract resources and create jobs.”

“The two-hour meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee was led by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who said last month that his focus in a bid to change the act would be “eliminating a lot of the red tape and the bureaucratic burdens that have been impacting our ability to create jobs,” according to a report in Energy and Environment News.”  From the Washington Post February 2017 

Watch USF&WS’s video about the 40 year old Endangered Species Act


Contact your members in congress and tell them to keep the Endangered Species Act in tact, because; 

Endangered Species Act is a success for all the imperiled species and critical habitats it protects.  

FWS issued permits to use endangered tigers and elephants in circuses and for sport hunting

From The Hill: Democrat outraged by endangered species hunting permits

By Tim Devaney – 06/27/16 

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is coming under scrutiny from a lawmaker over allegations that it gave trophy hunters permission to kill endangered animals like black rhinoceroses.

The FWS also gave circuses permission to mistreat endangered tigers and elephants, Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) claimed in a letter sent Friday to the agency’s director, Daniel Ashe, that demanded an end to the practice.
Trophy hunters and circuses effectively purchase permits to harm the animals by sending money to conservation charities, Boyle wrote.

Boyle said he uncovered more than 1,300 cases over the last five years where the FWS granted these endangered species permits in exchange for payment.
“The FWS has issued permits to companies to use endangered tigers and elephants in traveling circuses, as well as to individuals whose only aim is to kill highly endangered rhinoceroses for sport,” Boyle wrote in the letter. 
“In the case of trophy hunting, there is little evidence that killing individual animals or contributing money to groups that promote the practice help endangered species generally.”
The FWS’s issuance of these permits was exposed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which brought it to Boyle’s attention.
“Our government has no business allowing trophy hunters, abusive circuses, and animal experimenters to cut a check and be handed a free pass to violate the Endangered Species Act,” said Brittany Peet, PETA’s director of captive animal law enforcement.


Featured image by Nitish Madan 

968 concerned scientists send letter – ‘Implement the Endangered Species Act Using the Best Available Science’

The war on wildlife diven by special interests politics undermines the basic goals and objectives within the Endangered Species Act.  In the following letter 968 scientists ask for best available science to be the guide.  Read on: 

May 20, 2016

Implement the Endangered Species Act Using the Best Available Science 

To: Secretary Sally Jewell and Secretary Penny Prtizker

We, the under-signed scientists, recommend the U.S. government place species conservation policy on firmer scientific footing by following the procedure described below for using the best available science.
A recent survey finds that substantial numbers of scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe that political influence at their agency is too high.i Further, recent species listing and delisting decisions appear misaligned with scientific understanding.ii,iii,iv,v,vi For example, in its nationwide delisting decision for gray wolves in 2013, the FWS internal review failed the best science test when reviewed by an independent peer-review panel.vii Just last year, a FWS decision not to list the wolverine ran counter to the opinions of agency and external scientists.viii

We ask that the Departments of the Interior and Commerce make determinations under the Endangered Species Act only after they make public the independent recommendations from the scientific community, based on the best available science.

The best available science comes from independent scientists with relevant expertise who are able to evaluate and synthesize the available science, and adhere to standards of peer-review and full conflict-of-interest disclosure.

We ask that agency scientific recommendations be developed with external review by independent scientific experts. There are several mechanisms by which this can happen; however, of greatest importance is that an independent, external, and transparent science-based process is applied consistently to both listing and delisting decisions.

While other factors can enter into implementation of the Endangered Species Act, listing and delisting decisions are required by law to be based on the best available science.

The undersigned [968 constituents] Click HERE to view all 968 constituents

Adrian Treves, Ph.D. Ecology
Madison, WI 43705-4450

Camilla Fox, M.A. Environmental Science                                             Larkspur, CA 94977

Robert L. Crabtree, Ph.D. Ecology
Bozeman, MT 59718

David Parsons, M.S.
Albuquerque, NM 87107-2919


Featured image by John E Marriott Photography

Born Free USA Fights to Keep the Great Lakes Wolf Listed

February 12, 2013 Wildlife Protection Groups File Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves, including The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region. 

These groups won this suit and the happy news broke on December 19, 2014 that the Great Lakes wolves ordered back to endangered list.

The Great Lakes wolf owes their continued protection to these organizations.  In the next couple of blog posts I would like to highlight each organization mentioned above. I’ve already posted on the wonderful work that Humane Society of the U.S. had done on behalf of the Great Lakes wolf. 

In this blog I would like to highlight the work of Born Free USA.

Born Free USA is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally. 

Born Free USA was one of the organization that filed suit to return the Great Lakes wolf back to the ESA, read on: 

Victory for Wolves in the Great Lakes Region. In December, Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. ruled that the Department of the Interior’s decision to remove federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region was arbitrary and capricious. We have successfully restored ESA protection to gray wolves in the Great Lakes region: a huge win for endangered species conservation! Born Free USA proudly joined our colleagues at The Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, and Friends of Animals and Their Environment as plaintiffs in this case. You can read the entire ruling here.

Born Free USA’s History 
The Born Free Foundation was initiated in England in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, the stars of the legendary film Born Free, along with their son Will. Having been deeply influenced by their time spent in Kenya, Bill and Virginia were inspired to act after the tragic and untimely death of Pole Pole, an elephant featured in the film An Elephant Called Slowly, who was sent to the London Zoo from the Government of Kenya after the making of the film.
In the subsequent two decades, Born Free has become an international force in wildlife conservation and animal protection, campaigning to save elephants, big cats, wolves, dolphins, bears, primates, and numerous other species. Born Free upholds a dynamic presence in international animal rescues, saving animals from miserable conditions, rehabilitating them, and either providing for their lifetime care in a sanctuary or, whenever possible, rehoming them to the wild.


Virginia and “Elsa” and Bill Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers on the set of BORN FREE with one of the lionesses who played Elsa. PHOTO CREDIT: Columbia Pictures
A companion organization was established in the United States in 2002, Born Free USA, to carry on the work of the organization, involving the American public in our compassionate conservation campaigns. Born Free USA launched with a national office in Washington, DC.
Born Free is committed to spreading its brand of compassionate conservation across America and, indeed, across the globe. Our shared institutional mission is to alleviate animal suffering, protect threatened and endangered species in the wild, and encourage everyone to treat wildlife everywhere with respect and compassion.
The combination of Animal Protection Institute and Born Free USA would not have been possible without the dedicated pro bono legal assistance of the attorneys at Bingham McCutchen

Read more on the work Born Free USA has done for Wolves in the following:

Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act 

Feel free to thank them in the comment section of this blog for all the outstanding work they have done for wolves and animals. 

You can also thank them through Twitter @BornFreeUSA 


Or thank them on Born Free USA Facebook  
For more information, how you can help Born Free USA website Introduction to Advocacy

Born Free USA has my continued support and gratitude for all they’ve accomplished for wolves and animals.  



Photograph: From left to right: Virginia McKenna, George Adamson, Bill Travers, and Joy Adamson. Virginia and Bill played George & Joy in the hit film Born Free and became wildlife conservationists and founders of The Born Free Foundation

Letter to the Editor: Humane society opposes wolf delisting – Wayne Pacelle

 Source: Green Bay Gazette
Recently, a few lawmakers in Congress attempted to subvert federal court rulings and attach a rider to a must-pass spending bill to remove federal protections for wolves.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) opposed this action, working with our allies to ensure that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes states and Wyoming remain protected according to law. Wolves have no track record of hurting people, and under federal law, problem wolves can be removed under certain circumstances.
The Press-Gazette’s hunting writer properly noted our role in defending wolves, but mischaracterized our broader intentions. (“Wolf delisting out of budget package,” Dec. 24). HSUS is not trying to stop deer hunting and other forms of hunting that are conducted humanely and for meat. Nobody, on the other hand, is killing gray wolves for meat; they are inedible. They are killed for their heads and fur.
On the biology of the issue, more than 70 wildlife biologists and scientists recently wrote to Congress to state the ecological and legal reasons against delisting. In the end, Congress made the right call and showed proper restraint in not meddling with the Endangered Species Act.
Wayne Pacelle
Pacelle is president/CEO of the Humane Society of the United States

Image courtesy of Pinterest 

Great Lakes Wolf News Highlights of the Year 2015

This year in review for the Great Lakes wolf has seen it all from being federally protected, to threats of delisting, and anti- wolf riders being rejected. The year 2015 started out on a positive note for wolf advocates, because a federal Judge had ordered the Great Lakes Wolf back on the ESA on December 19, 2014. This positive news didn’t last long and wolf advocates began to brace themselves against the possibility that the Great Lakes wolf could be delisted at any given moment. Anti-wolf factions were angered by the decision that returned the wolf back under federal protections. These anti-wolf factions began to work with special interests groups to undermine the endangered species act by attaching riders on legislation that would prevent any judicial review and return wolves back into the hands of states. Thus began the battle to save the Great Lakes wolf. 

On Friday December 19, 2014 the news broke that Great Lakes wolves were put back on the Federal Endangered Species Act immediately.

Great Lakes wolves ordred back on the ESA , December 19, 2014

Several organizations challenged a rule that had removed the Great Lakes wolf from the Endangered Species Act. The humane society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, Help Our Wolves Live, Friends of Animals and their Environment, and Born Free USA were the organizations that successfully sued to have the Great Lakes wolf put back on the ESA.
The following is a press release from HSUS…

“Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.” Cited from HSUS

The following is excerpts from the ruling…

“In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species. The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.”  Cited from HSUS

Great Lakes states were not willing to protect an endangered species. The following are some examples of unregulated sport hunting of wolves that took place while they were off the ESA list.

Young wolf killed in Wisconsin’s third wolf hunt. Wisconsin is the only state that allows unregulated wolf hound hunting.

1. Wisconsin rushed to hunt wolves with the aid of hound hunting dogs. Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”

2. Minnesota used snares to kill wolves. Can it get any more violent? Wolves were killed in Minnesota using these snare traps. Minnesota hunting regulations MDNR use of snare for trapping begins. Cited from WODCW blog

In other news, Michigan citizens worked hard to overturn any and all bids to hunt wolves and to keep wolves protected. For more information on this fight visit Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

Returning wolves to the ESA was the best news of the year for wolf advocates in the Great Lakes region.  Shortly after this good news broke, anti-wolf legislators started designing legislation calling to delist wolves without any judicial review. In response to this anti-wolf legislation, several pro wolf organizations called for a compromise.

“… a petition from 22  regional and national conservation and wolf advocacy organizations, to keep protections in place – asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify wolves from “endangered” to “threatened.” The proposal would ensure federal oversight of wolves, encourage the development of a national recovery plan, and keep funding in place for wolf recovery while permitting states to address specific wolf conflicts.” Cited from WODCW blog

The fight to keep Wolves on the endangered species list continued in June, as the US Fish and Wildlife Service denied the threatened status for the gray wolf.  Science was ignored  by Wisconsin and Minnesota and trophy hunting became the only acceptable tool used to manage the Great Lakes wolf.  It was no wonder a Federal Judge ordered them back on the ESA on December 19, 2014 after three years of unregulated trophy hunting in the Great Lakes region. 

In WI news, it was determined that a trophy hunt on wolves did not increase tolerance of wolves and that WI residents need wolf education to increase tolerance of wolves.

Scientists began to speak out against trophy hunts on wolves…

“There was a notion held widely in the scientific literature and said at public meetings that a public hunting season would increase acceptance of wolves,” says Adrian Treves, professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and co-author of the study. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources cited “maintaining social tolerance” as a goal of the wolf harvest in a statement in 2013… While wolf hunting is again illegal — the animals were relisted as a federally endangered species in 2014 — study lead author Jamie Hogberg, a researcher at the Nelson Institute, suggests policymakers and wildlife managers might consider other ways to improve social tolerance and reduce conflict between the animals and people going forward.” Cited from, Tolerance of wolves in Wisconsin continues to decline, UW-Madison news

In an attempt to satisfy anti-wolf special interests, several members of congress began to push legislation to delist the Great Lakes wolf.

“Johnson’s bill would mirror H.R. 884, a bill introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble that would again remove wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the Endangered Species List. The bills would override a December federal court ruling that outlawed wolf hunts. Cited from Wisconsin Public Radio, Sen. Johnson Plans To Introduce Bill Delisting Wolf Under Endangered Species Act, Legislation Would Mirror Rep. Ribble’s Bill In House,” Friday, March 6, 2015, 6:50pm, By Glen Moberg

Conditions worsened for the Great Lakes wolf,  as anti-wolf legislation took the form of a  rider attached to federal budget that called to delist the wolves without any judicial review.

Great Lakes wolf advocates rushed to defend the endangered species Act from being undermined. Advocates held tweetstorms, letter writing, and email campaigns to stop anti-wolf legislation.

The most recent news on the delisting question took place in November 2015…

However, a greater debate broke out between scientists. There were many who advocated delisting, but there were even more who did not believe wolves should be delisted. The following is an account of the pro-wolf listing scientists:

Scientists Sound Off Over Gray Wolf Hunting, Species Currently Protected But Congress, Courts Could Change That, Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 5:10pm, By Chuck Quirmbach of WPR

“In recent weeks, scientists and researchers have been speaking up. Adrian Treves, a University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental studies professor, has co-authored a paper in the journal Biological Reviews that says by allowing hunters to shoot and trap wolves, Wisconsin legislators violated the Public Trust Doctrine that says governments must maintain natural resources for the use of current and future generations of the general public… This week, Treves joined 28 other scientists in arguing that Endangered Species Act protection for the wolves should be kept. Treves contends a different group of scientists that released a pro-delisting letter last week misunderstood the finer points of law, public attitudes and scientific evidence.”  Cited from WPR

The following information concerns scientists who asked that wolves be delisted:

“Former DNR wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven, now coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance at Northland College in Ashland, said the group has a message for Congress: “Just want to let them know that many of us feel wolves have recovered and they should be a state-managed species at this point,” Wydeven said.”  Cited from WPR

I even weighed in on the debate in the same post…

“Various advocates are lining up behind the two groups of scientists. Rachel Tilseth, of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, disagreed with Wydeven…”Can states be trusted to manage wolves? I think not, and many other scientists agree that individual states cannot be trusted,” Tilseth said.” Cited from WPR

Since the Great Lakes wolf were returned to the endangered Species Act on December, 19, 2014, the news coming out of Washington D.C. has been a steady stream of of anti-wolf legislation.  Keeping the Great Lakes Wolf under federal protection has been the biggest battle of the year. 
Wolves must remain under federal protection until individual states in the Great Lakes, can learn how to protect an iconic species. Scientists have just begun to understand how essential wolves are to maintaining healthy ecosystems. Hunting wolves as a management tool only serves special interest groups bent on eradication. Cited from WODCW blog

  A welcomed bit of hope for the wolf came out in April 2015 in the form of a documentary, Medicine of the Wolf, a film made in Minnesota. This film features wolf advocates, such as renowned National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg and Michigan Scientist John Vucetich. This film was produced and directed by Julia Huffman. I recommend you purchase this film available for sale now. The following link will take you to the film’s website:

At last, a victory came for the Great Lakes wolves, almost one year after they were ordered back under federal protections. The rider ordering the delisting of our wolves was removed from the omnibus budget bill:

“A proposal that would have taken gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list did not make it into a massive year-end congressional tax and spending package, an omission that surprised its backers but was welcomed Wednesday by groups that support maintaining federal protections for the predators… “Cooler heads prevailed in Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He said a letter written by Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, and signed by 23 other senators including Gary Peters, D-Michigan, helped make the difference. Cited from WODCW blog

Although this is good news for Great Lakes wolves, they 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.

There are still several anti-wolf bills in congress that would delist the wolf in the Great Lakes region, but at the end of this year, the Great Lakes wolf is still federally protected by the endangered species act. The question I ask for the coming year is this: will the president and congress protect iconic and endangered species? We must constantly remind both that they should do exactly that.

For more information on how to help keep the Great Lakes wolf listed, click on the following links: 

Howling for Wolves

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected


Wolves may be recovered enough to delist but are individual states prepared to protect them? 


Wild wolf howling in the Canadian Rockies Copyright : John E Marriott
Point counter point:

The newest debate on the fate of America’s wolves comes in the form of a letter…”The 18 November (2015) letter, sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is intended to support the federal government’s position that wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan are fully recovered and that states should now manage the species.” Science Insider

The letter from 26 scientists states that wolves have recovered enough in the Great Lakes region and do not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

Recovery of wolves has made great strides over the last four decades in the region with a population of over 3,700 wolves. 

That is until 2011 when wolves were officially delisted in the Great Lakes and states like Wisconsin rushed to enact emergency legislation that mandated a wolf hunt…”Department authority. If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses.” 2011 WISCONSIN ACT 169

States caved in to the pressure from sportsman and agricultural special interest groups. Wolf recovery ended and trophy hunting of wolves began. 

Wisconsin was the worst, even allowing the use of dogs to track and trail wolves proving it cannot be trusted to protect an endangered species…

“Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”” Fact Sheet: Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”

Wisconsin went as far as to stack wolf management in favor of hunting interests.

 The majority of the seats on Wisconsin’s Wolf Advisory Committee consisted of hunt clubs.  (WI Bear Hunters Association and WI Bow Hunters Association to name a few).

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary, Cathy Stepp, admitted that wolf advocacy groups were booted…

“Stepp confirmed what her critics have alleged: that wolf hunting opponents were by and large kicked off the committee…When we’re charged to manage and to implement a hunt, coming in and telling us, ‘Don’t hunt wolves,’ is not a productive way to run a committee, frankly,” said Stepp. “That’s just the candid way to lay it out. We had to have people who were willing to work with us in partnership, and be willing to help us and advise us along the way in implementing state law.” Wisconsin Public Radio

Is this an example of how Wisconsin protects an endangered species? Can states be trusted to manage wolves?

I think not and many other scientists agree that individual states cannot be trusted to manage wolves

“John Vucetich, a wildlife ecologist at Michigan Technological University in Houghton and a signer of the February letter, sees things differently. “The problem is that the recovery criteria don’t meet the standards of the ESA,” he says. And “if wolves are threatened by peoples’ hatred, then the ESA requires this threat to be mitigated.” He predicts that if the wolves are taken off the federal list, “every one of these states will have a wolf hunting season, ending any further expansion of the gray wolf.”  Science Insider

Science not hatred must be the deciding factor in the fate of America’s wolves.

That’s why (January 2015) the Humane Society of the United States, along with other wolf advocacy groups signed on to a letter sent to Secretary Jewell asking to downlist wolves from protected to threatened status. This is a compromise that would allow farmers and ranchers to address any concerns but not allow the hunting of wolves. 

“Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin signed onto this proposal. WODCW believes this threatened status will give non-lethal opportunities to address concerns regarding wolves with livestock producers and maintain the health of wolves. WODCW believes wolves should remain healthy, wild and not harassed from trophy hunts.” WODCW Blog January 27, 2015

Threatened status was rejected by Secretary Jewell proving states are not interested in a compromuse that would protect wolves.  

Wolves must remain under federal protection until individual states, such as Wisconsin, can learn how to protect an iconic species. Scientists have just begun to understand how essential wolves are to maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Hunting wolves as a management tool only serves special interest groups bent on eradication. 

Will individual states be trusted to protect wolves? 


Image: John E. Marriott


Campaign for Yellowstone’s Wolves-seeks volunteers to defend wolves from political attack. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE! We want to create a special Cadre of “Ready-For-Action” Volunteers to defend wolves from political attack between now and early December. To join, please message us ASAP!
Here’s why: We need folks who at critical moments in coming days can contact key political leaders to oppose anti-wolf legislation now before Congress. Specifically, a “rider” attached to the 2016 appropriations bill for the environment would remove federal protection for wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and weaken the Endangered Species Act.
Yellowstone’s wolves would again be subjected to hunting along the huge border between Wyoming and Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks. In the past many park wolves were shot in this boundary area, including the beloved Alpha Female know as “06” of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. If that’s not bad enough, all of Wyoming and those Great Lakes states would again be open to wolf hunting.
We will contact everyone who joins this elite group on exactly who to contact, when, and how best to do so for maximum effect! We will coordinate this effort with other wolf advocate groups. Thank you in advance, dear friends!

Campaign for Yellowstone’s Wolves
Click HERE to message us through our Facebook page.