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Wildlife Groups Push To Relist Gray Wolves As Threatened

Hunting Groups, Livestock Owners Say Wolf Population Needs Balance

Photo: Don Burkett (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Groups in Wisconsin that support wolves have signed on to a petition that asks the federal government to relist the gray wolf as a threatened species.

A federal judge ruled last month that gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan again merit Endangered Species Act protection, blocking Wisconsin hunters and trappers planning on killing more wolves next fall. But the ruling also halted livestock owners from being able to get their own permits to kill wolves that are attacking cattle.

Wildlife groups have said they want to compromise, and have asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the gray wolf on a less restrictive threatened species list.

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Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County, Wisconsin said there’d be no wolf hunt, but perhaps some help for ranchers and farmers.

“The states would work with Fish and Wildlife Services closely to solve any problems concerning depredation with livestock, so this is like the best solution for wolves because it opens the door to more communication,” said Tilseth.

A Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said the agency will review the petition for threatened species status, as the request would also apply to most other gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

Meanwhile, several Wisconsin farm and hunting groups are asking U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble to help a national push to have Congress completely delist the gray wolf again and limit judicial review.

A letter to the Green Bay Republican argued that, with the state-approved hunt of gray wolves suspended, there is no mechanism to keep the Wisconsin wolf population in check.