DNR appeals ruling returning wolves to endangered species list

WASHINGTON, DC — A December federal district court ruling that returned wolves in Michigan to the federal endangered species list has been appealed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In the appeal, filed today by the Michigan Attorney General in the U.S. Court of Appeals, the DNR asks the court to uphold a 2011 decision that removed wolves from the federal endangered species list in the Great Lakes region.

Michigan joins a number of hunting and conservation organizations, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in appealing the ruling.

“Wolves in Michigan and the other western Great Lakes states are fully recovered from endangered species status, which is a great success story,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “Continuing to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a recovered species not only undermines the integrity of the Act, it leaves farmers and others with no immediate recourse when their animals are being attacked and killed by wolves.”

DNR director Keith Creagh says returning wolf management to wildlife professionals is critical to retaining a “recovered, healthy, and socially-accepted” wolf population in Michigan. “Michigan residents who live with wolves deserve to have a full range of tools available to sustainably manage that population,” said Creagh.

Michigan’s wolf population numbers approximately 636 in the Upper Peninsula.

With the return to federal protection in December 2014, the DNR lost the authority to use a variety of wolf management methods, including lethal control, to minimize wolf conflict with humans, livestock and dogs. The change in status also suspended state authority that allowed livestock and dog owners to protect their animals from wolf depredation when wolves are in the act of attacking those animals.

The DNR will argue against the federal district court’s ruling that wolves must recover across their historic range – which includes the lower 48 states and Mexico – before Michigan’s wolf population can be removed from the federal endangered species list.

According to the DNR, wolves in Michigan are 15 years past the population recovery goals set by the federal government.