Here at NRDC we’ve made no secret of the fact that we think that wolves are fully recovered in the upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) and no longer need Endangered Species Act protections. In fact, NRDC wrote a detailed comment letter to the federal government saying just that. But even then, we said that the success or failure of delisting would hinge on whether or not these Midwest states could responsibly manage their wolves. Of all the management plans in the Midwest--plans that the federal government relied on when it removed the wolf from the Endangered Species List--the Minnesota plan was one of the best, not least of which because it called for a five-year moratorium on hunting after any delisting. Now it seems like Minnesota is about to unilaterally change course and allow the immediate hunting and trapping of 400 wolves. Wisconsin just enacted a similar hunting plan, despite the vociferous objections of its Native American communities.
Minnesotans have been predictably -- and understandably -- frustrated by this flip-flop, and some have formed a new group called, Howling for Wolves, which is running both TV and radio ads trying to block the rule changes. Among other things, Howling for Wolves is pointing out (quite rightly, in my opinion) that immediate wolf hunting and trapping was not what Minnesota promised when it pushed for the removal of Endangered Species Act protections from its wolf population. No matter where you fall on the question of wolf hunting, there’s a lesson to be learned here: caution is called for in managing animals just removed from the Endangered Species List.