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Judge: All Wolves Need to be on Endangered Species List
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/01/2008

Although Wisconsin has already issued seven permits to allow farmers to shoot wolves that attack their livestock, a federal judge says the wild animals need to be protected. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington, D.C. ruled to overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to remove gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the endangered species list. He said when an animal goes into 'endangered status' within the nation's borders, certain regions within the nation cannot drop the status.

The case was presented to the court by the Humane Society of the United States. They have been opposed to changing the wolves' status from the beginning and have been fighting to get more protection for the animals. The federal agency told Wisconsin's natural resources department in early 2007 that they could allow grey wolves to be hunted.

Meanwhile, the state's largest farm organization is extremely disappointed with the decision. Jeff Lyon, who serves as the director of governmental relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, says the move gives less rights to farmers who should have the legal ability to protect their livestock from predators.

"The wolf population is thriving in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan," Lyon said. "Wisconsin's population alone is more than 200 wolves above the goals established in the state's management plan. Wolves in the three states should be dealt with as a distinct population segment and not lumped in with populations out West."

A survey taken this year showed there were 2,921 wolves in Minnesota, and at least 537 in Wisconsin and 520 in Michigan.

The decision was the second setback in a week for the Bush administration's campaign to return management authority to state officials in the two regions where the wolf has rebounded after being driven to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on September 23 asked a judge in Montana to return gray wolves in the Northern Rockies to the endangered list, reversing a proposal to drop them earlier this year. That followed the judge's order in July barring plans for public wolf hunts in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

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