MINNEAPOLIS — Two national wildlife protection groups said Monday that they will file suit to return the Great Lakes wolf to the endangered species list, and they asked that both Minnesota and Wisconsin suspend their wolf hunts.
The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals served notice that they will file suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put faith in the state wildlife agencies to responsibly manage wolf populations,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for The Humane Society. “But their overzealous and extreme plans to allow for trophy hunting and recreational trapping immediately after de-listing demonstrate that such confidence was unwarranted.”
He said that Minnesota failed to keep its promise to wait five years after delisting before authorizing a hunt. In Wisconsin, state officials have set a quota that equals “roughly 24 percent” of the population in the state, he said.
“The states have allowed the most extreme voices to grab hold of wolf management, and the result could be devastating for this species,” he said.
The groups Monday filed the 60-day notice of their intent to sue over the rule required under the Endangered Species Act. If the federal agency does not reconsider the delisting rule over the next 60 days, the groups will ask a federal court to reinstate federal protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region.
In other legal action Monday, two wildlife groups have asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop the state’s first managed wolf that begins Nov. 3, arguing that the lower court was wrong when it ruled last week that the killing of 400 wolves would not cause irreparable harm.
The two groups filed suit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources claiming that state officials violated their own rules when they failed to give the public adequate chance to weigh in on the state’s hunting plan. The appeals court ruled last week that the case could go forward, but it refused to grant an injunction that would stop the hunt while the case is pending.
But without it, the hunt will be over before the legal challenge is even heard, said Collette Adkins Giese, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the wildlife groups that filed suit.
“I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will recognize what the Court of Appeals did not — that the shooting and trapping of 400 wolves is an irreversible harm,” said Giese. “Rushing to open a hunt this fall, the DNR slammed the door on meaningful public participation in a controversial management decision about wolf hunting and trapping.”
The appeals court said that the state legislature, not the DNR, was responsible for ordering the hunt. And DNR officials that there has been plenty of opportunity for public comment through the legislative process and other means. They also say that with a population ofp 4,000 wolves in the state, a quota of 400 is conservative and will not harm the population. The DNR will issue wolf hunting and trapping licenses to 6,000 hunters.
The second group is Howling for Wolves, which is behind the anti-hunt billboard and media campaign in the Twin Cities and Duluth.