Two bills have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would strip endangered species status protections for the wolf in four states. Republican Representative John Kline of Minnesota has introduced HF 843, prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from listing the wolf as an endangered species in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Almost at the same time, Republican Representative Reid Ribble of Wisconsin introduced HF 884, a much broader bill that would restore wolves to their unprotected status under a FWS rule from 2012, adding Wyoming to the list of Great Lakes states. Ribble’s bill would turn over protection of the wolves to the states.
The debate over the controversial status of wolves in the country is ongoing, with pro-wolf activists insisting that wolves are not the main cause of livestock deaths. They claim the wolf has not returned to its full historical range and overaggressive management could irreparably harm the species. They also have countless studies to back their assertions up, yet the reports fall on deaf ears.
In response to activists’ claims, pro-hunting groups assert the wolves have met their population recovery quotas and the growing numbers are now threatening livestock, pets and children. Drew YoungeDyke, public relations manager of the pro-hunt group Michigan United Conservation Clubs says, “There’s really no business for them to be on the endangered species list.”
He claims the wolf exceeded population quotas as set by the government that led to them being taken off the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region in 2012. A hunt in Michigan the following year was authorized to cull their numbers. This resulted in the state legislature designating the wolf as a game animal. The backlash to this action was tremendous, resulting in a 2014 referendum to veto the law. A second attempt at resurrecting the game status of the wolf was also rejected.
The legislation now before the House of Representatives, if passed and signed by the president, would overturn a federal judge’s ruling in December 2014 that wolves in the great Lakes region be immediately placed back under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, under the government’s original 1978 rules.
Statistics show that the real problem in livestock losses is not because of predation by wolves. Wolves account for less than 5.0 percent of cattle and sheep losses annually. Actually, domestic dogs are responsible for killing five times as many cattle as wolves. The biggest losses are due to inclement weather, disease, and domestic dogs. In Wyoming, less than one percent of sheep losses are attributed to wolves.