Proposal to Remove ESA Protection for Gray Wolves in
Western Great Lakes DPS and the National Wolf Strategy
Comment Period Reopens from August 26 to September 26, 2011
The Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on the proposal to delist the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes DPS because it has additional information regarding its recognition of the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) as a separate species that it would like the public to review and comment on.
The new information includes a manuscript prepared by Service biologists—"An Account of the Taxonomy of North American Wolves from Morphological and Genetic Analyses" (link below). In addition the Service is letting the public know that it is considering concluding the proposed rule with two or more final rules.
Federal Register Notice (Aug. 26, 2011): Revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife for the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Eastern United States: correction and reopening of comment period
An Account of the Taxonomy of North American Wolves from Morphological and Genetic Analyses by Steven M. Chambers, Steven R. Fain, Bud Fazio, Michael Amaral (169-page PDF; 1MB)
Proposal to Delist Wolves in the Western Great Lakes
The Service is proposing to revise and remove the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of gray wolves (Canis lupus) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Additionally, we are proposing to remove other Endangered Species Act protections for this DPS: gray wolf critical habitat in Minnesota and Michigan and the gray wolf special rule in Minnesota (which defines the circumstances when gray wolves can be taken in Minnesota).
Over the last 30 years advances in genetic analysis techniques led to a number of wolf genetics studies. As a result of those studies, scientists proposed changes to wolf taxonomy. Because listing decisions are based on taxonomic entities (species, subspecies, distinct population segments of species), the Service undertook a review of wolf taxonomy studies and data interpretation in the lower 48 states. That review concluded that the gray wolf subspecies known as the eastern timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) should be elevated to species status, the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon). Thus, two species of wolves are present in the western Great Lakes: gray wolf (Canis lupus) and eastern wolf (Canis lycaon).
Currently, the gray wolf is listed as endangered throughout the eastern United States, even though that area is the historical range of the eastern wolf. To correct the gray wolf listing, the Service is proposing to remove all or parts of 29 eastern and southeastern states that are within the historical range of the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) or the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Service is also initiating a status review of the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) throughout its range in the United States and Canada.
- Federal Register: Proposed Rule To Revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife for the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Eastern United States, Initiation of Status Reviews for the Gray Wolf and for the Eastern Wolf (Canis lycaon)
- References Cited in the Proposed Rule to Remove ESA Protection for the Western Great Lakes Wolves
- Map of the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment
- Gray Wolf Recovery and Delisting: Questions and Answers (May 2011)
- Wolf Taxonomy in the Western Great Lakes States
- May 11, 2011 News Release: Comment Period Began May 5 on Wolf Delisting Proposal: Public Hearing Set for May 18, 2011
- May 4, 2011 News Release: Interior Announces Next Steps in Protection, Recovery, and Scientific Management of Wolves (PDF)
About the National Wolf Strategy
Included in the Federal Register Proposed Rule to Delist the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes DPS is a discussion of our National Wolf Strategy and steps towards implementing that strategy. The Service developed a national strategy to ensure long-term survival of wolf species and subspecies in the lower 48 states. Under the strategy, the Service will assess wolf populations and determine whether they are appropriately protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal to delist the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment is part of the strategy.
Under the National Wolf Strategy four gray wolf entities (i.e., species, subspecies, or DPSs) were identified for possible listing actions:
the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolf (Canis lupus), which has been proposed for delisting;
the Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment of gray wolf (Canis lupus) which is being delisted (with the exception of the area found within the state of Wyoming) due to congressional action;
wolves in the Pacific Northwest, with classification as a possible threatened or endangered DPS pending completion of a status review; and
wolves in the Southwest, to be identified as either a DPS of Canis lupus or as the subspecies Canis lupus baileyi pending completion of a status review initiated pursuant to our 90-day finding on two listing petitions.
In conjunction with the proposal to remove ESA protection for the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment and revise the range of the gray wolf in the east, the national wolf strategy includes initiation of reviews to resolve the status of gray wolves in the Pacific Northwest and of Mexican wolves – a gray wolf subspecies – in the Southwest. These reviews, along with the range wide review of Canis lycaon, will allow the Service to cohesively address all existing wolf populations in the lower 48 states and Mexico in terms of their appropriate listing classification.
Ashland, WI Public Hearing Transcript
A formal public hearing was held at the Great Lakes Center near Ashland, WI, on May 18, 2011. Here is the official
- Ashland, WI Public Hearing Transcript (60-page pdf; 91KB).