by Matthew Brown and John Fleischer | The Associated Press
FARIBAULT, Minn. — President Joe Biden’s administration is stuck on a decision under former President Donald Trump to lift protections for gray wolves across much of America, but a top federal wildlife official told the Associated Press on Friday that concerns over hunting invasive wolves Increasing. Adapted seasons for hunters in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains.
Wolves under federal protection made a remarkable rebound in parts of the US over the past several decades, after being driven by the landscape from excessive hunting and trapping in the early 1900s.
States took over wolf management in the northern Rockies over the past decade and in January for the remainder of the Lower 48 states, including the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest.
Removal of protection had been going on for years and it was the right thing to do when Trump was finalized in the final days, US Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director for Ecological Services Gary Fraser told the AP. On Friday, administration lawyers asked a federal judge in California to dismiss a lawsuit by wildlife advocates to review Trump’s move on his first day in office, signaling the conclusion of Biden’s promise to protect security. tries to restore.
But wolf management policies at the state level have shifted dramatically since protections were lifted, and Fraser suggested that the federal government could take steps to restore protections if it saw a population decline that would make them extinct. on the way to being.
“Certainly some of the things we’re seeing are concerning,” he said.
After a pro-hunting group with close ties to conservative Republicans won a court order, Wisconsin moved quickly to reduce the state’s numbers of wolves that allowed poaching—some hounds—in four days. To kill 218 wolves.
Meanwhile, Republican-dominated legislatures in Idaho and Montana loosened hunting rules to allow payment for wolves and dead wolves hunted at night and by air by many wildlife managers, which they found in close proximity. Leading to extinction.
Fraser said the various states showed a common approach: legislatures and politically appointed wildlife commissions took determined steps to reduce the population.
“We know that circumstances have changed and we are watching closely to see how the population responds,” he said.
The lead counsel in a lawsuit that seeks to restore protections for the Wolves outside the northern Rockies said he was disappointed in the Biden administration for not responding immediately to push by states.
“Why should we pull the population back down and lose all the gains made before any kind of remedial action?” Tim Presso asked environmental law firm EarthJustice. “It is written on the wall. Montana and Idaho are clear on what they want and Wisconsin is right behind them.
Policies adopted by states reflect an increasingly partisan approach to predator management in Republican-dominated state homes.
The wolf population in the Midwest has grown to about 4,400 wolves. In recent years, there has been a growing frustration among pastoralists and hunters about attacks on cattle and big game. In Wisconsin, a Republican-controlled board set the state’s fall hunt quota at 300 animals, rejecting the 130-animal limit recommended by state wildlife managers.
Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general is seeking a court order to remove the board’s chairman, whose term expired in May. Democratic Governor Tony Evers has appointed a successor, but is refusing to step down until the Senate confirms the appointment. The Republican-dominated Senate did not hear the appointment.
Hundreds of wolves are now killed each year by poachers and trappers in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. According to wildlife officials, the population remains strong – more than 3,000 animals – because wolves breed so successfully and can roam vast areas of wild land in the sparsely populated northern Rockies.
Some officials in the states are intent on reducing those numbers to prevent livestock attacks and protect large game herds that are hunted by wolves. Proponents of restoring protection say the changes will tip the scales and drive wolf numbers to unsustainable levels, while also threatening packs in nearby states that have interconnected populations.