Columbus, OH -- The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) and a group of state sportsmen’s organizations have submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for returning recovered wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region to state management. Western Great Lakes wolves are currently on the Endangered Species List (ESA). This is the latest in the long-running saga of the USSAF’s support of scientific wildlife management.
In April, the Service announced a proposal to remove Western Great Lakes region wolves from ESA protection. This move would allow wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to be controlled by state wildlife managers.
USSAF’s comments to the Service highlight two major reasons for delisting this population.
First, the comments point out that wolves in the region have far exceeded recovery goals. Second, USSAF’s comments address a critical scientific issue created by the Service when it also announced that it may recognize a second species of wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. An incorrect finding that two species of wolves exist in the region would open the delisting to a challenge by the anti-hunting lobby seeking to prevent the return of wolves in the region to state management.
USSAF’s comments are supported by the affidavit of wildlife and wolf genetics expert Dr. Lisette Waits. Dr. Waits’ comments highlight wolf genetic studies and other scientific facts showing there are not two separate wolf species in the Western Great Lakes region and thus, the Service should not recognize a second species.
Joining USSAF in its comments are the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Dairyland Committee of Safari Club International Chapters of Wisconsin, Whitetails of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Firearms Owners, Rangers, Clubs, and Educators, Inc.
“For years, science has shown that these wolves have far exceeded recovery goals,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs. “Additionally, we hope that the Service will look at the prevailing scientific facts that show only one wolf population exists within the Western Great Lakes region and it will avoid letting the antis use this unsupported claim as another roadblock to rightfully returning wolves to state management.”
Previous efforts to delist recovered wolf populations have been reversed as a result of lawsuits filed by animal rights groups. In those cases, the reversals dealt with technical issues and did not question or overturn findings that wolves have met recovery goals.
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