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Minnesota's Grey Wolf Losing "Endangered Species" Protection

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Friday, January 16, 2009   

Wolves in Minnesota and two other Midwest states are set to be removed from the Endangered Species List under a decision by the Bush administration. Groups including the National Humane Society blocked the previous effort to de-list the gray wolf in 2007. This week's action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift federal protection is also likely to face a legal challenge.

In the meantime, the decision is getting approval from an unlikely source - the National Wildlife Federation. Spokesman Marc Smith says the de-listing of the wolf in the Great Lakes states is a success story.

"We feel that the states have done their job and now the feds have followed suit. And so we're very supportive of what the feds have done and we hope this ruling sticks."

Minnesota is home to an estimated 3,000 gray wolves. Wisconsin and Michigan each have about 500. The decision also pertains to the Northern Rockies, where about 1,500 wolves reside.

Smith welcomes the ruling in the Great Lakes region, which allows states to devise their own management plans.

"We really want to see the species back down on a level playing field with all management so that wildlife agencies can manage the population appropriately."

The wolf was placed back on the endangered list after a federal court ruled against the administration's interpretation of the law last fall. The agency then created two separate habitat regions--one in the Great Lakes area and one in the northern Rocky Mountains, where the decision remains more controversial.



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