STATE NEWS: Multiple States Declare War on Wolves

January 26, 2017
Kerry Lengyel

The proposed “War on Wolves Act” would strip federal protections from wolves and allow trophy hunting and trapping in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Michigan.

Senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming recently introduced a new bill to Congress that would subject wolves to unregulated killing across each state, including Michigan.

The “War on Wolves Act” is a companion bill to other legislation recently introduced—called the Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017—that would strip federal protections from wolves and allow trophy hunting and trapping in each of the states.

The bills mean a hostile management program would start back up in Wyoming, which used to allow unlimited shoot-on-sight killing of wolves across 85% of the state.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 statewide Endangered Species Act delisted the species, allowing this inhumane behavior. But this act was invalidated in September 2014, granting federal protections for gray wolves in the state.

The “War on Wolves Act” seeks to once again delist the species under the Endangered Species Act, making the act of killing wolves on sight legal.

The newly introduced legislation would also strip citizens of the right to challenge these wolf management programs in court.

Marjorie Mulhall, a senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law organization dedicated to environmental concerns, issued the following statement regarding the newly introduced bill:

“A new congress has resurfaced an old vendetta against imperiled wolves. If this legislation is signed into law, wolves in Wyoming will be subjected to unregulated killing across the vast majority of the state, and even on the borders of Yellowstone National Park numerous legal loopholes will authorize widespread wolf killing.

Americans widely hailed the return of wolves to the Northern Rockies two decades ago as a triumph of the Endangered Species Act, but now this ‘War on Wolves Act’ would allow for the same unregulated killing that nearly wiped out the species in the first place. Politicians should not meddle in the science-based listing status of a particular species at any stage, but now is an especially bad time as these cases are still playing out in the courts.

We urge those who support the protection of wolves to call their senators and representatives and tell them to vote down this lethal legislation.”

Two million gray wolves once populated North America but were driven to near-extinction in the early 1900s. The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 protected these wolves, allowing their numbers to increase slowly—there are now more than 5,500 gray wolves in the continental United States.

Passage of the “War on Wolves Act” would again have the species take a nosedive toward extinction.

The appeals process of two previous federal court decisions that protected wolves in these four states are currently under way, with decisions expected soon.