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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RMEF Joins Groups Seeking Appeal of Great Lakes Wolf Ruling

The organizations in the attached letter are encouraging Minnesota Senator Al Franken to urge the Secretary of Interior to immediately appeal the decision of US District Judge Beryl A. Howell that granted a motion for summary judgment vacating the US Department of Interior’s action that delisted the wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The groups, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, further request the appeal include a petition for immediate stay of the order and full reinstatement of the final rule revising the Listing of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Western Great Lakes (the “Final Rule”), 76 Fed. Reg. 81,666 (Dec. 28, 2011), pending completion of the appeal process.


January 12th, 2015
The Honorable Al Franken
United States Senate
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator Franken,

As you are aware, on December 19th, 2014, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell made a decision to immediately reinstate Endangers Species Act protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Wolves now revert to the federal protection status they had prior to being removed from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region in January 2012. Meaning, wolves now are federally classified as threatened in Minnesota and endangered elsewhere in the Great Lakes region.

The undersigned organizations are requesting your support and assistance in urging the Secretary of Interior to immediately appeal the decision of US District Judge Beryl A. Howell that granted a motion for summary judgment vacating the US Department of Interior’s action that delisted the wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. We further request the appeal include a petition for immediate stay of the order and full reinstatement of the final rule revising the Listing of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Western Great Lakes (the “Final Rule”), 76 Fed. Reg. 81,666 (Dec. 28, 2011), pending completion of the appeal process. 

Since January of 2012, Minnesota’s gray wolf population has been managed under the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR). By all measures established by the MN DNR, gray wolf populations have been maintained in Minnesota and the western Great Lakes states and should remain delisted. Neither USFWS nor the states dispute that wolves have recovered and maintained their populations in this area. However, efforts to de-list wolves in this area continue to be challenged on procedural and technical, rather than wolf conservation, grounds. The success of the ESA in recovering this population and the management efforts of the MN DNR have been overshadowed by litigation and the unnecessarily onerous process to delist the gray wolf. 

We urge you to contact Secretary Jewel and tell her that wolves have recovered in Minnesota and no longer warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This should include a clear statement that wolves are deemed to be recovered in Minnesota, but would not change the statutory underpinnings of the ESA or preclude further action related to wolves under the ESA. This would also show that, since January of 2012, state agencies have been able to successfully manage wolf populations. With this type of action, we firmly believe it would remedy what is necessary to overcome the long history of legal and technical challenges to managing a clearly recovered species, and return the management of the wolf population to state agencies.

The State of Minnesota’s wolf plan has and will continue protect wolves and monitor their population, while giving owners of livestock and domestic pets and wildlife more protection from wolf depredation as well as diseases carried by wolves. 

The original USFWS recovery plan called for 1,251 to 1,400 gray wolves in Minnesota to meet delisting criteria. The state plan establishes a minimum population of 1,600 wolves to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf in Minnesota. The state’s wolf population, which was estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s, has grown to nearly 2,400 animals. This obviously far exceeds state and federal recovery goals and has led to more conflicts between wolves and humans, pets, and livestock.

Sincerely,

Tim Nolte
President – Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

Pat Lunemann
President, Minnesota Milk Producers Association

Melanie D. Pamp
President - MN Lamb and Wool Producers

Tim Spreck
President - Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance (MOHA)

Blake L. Henning
Vice-President of Lands & Conservation - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Shawn Johnson
President – On behalf of the Board of Directors and membership of the Minnesota Trappers Association

Craig Engwall
Minnesota Deer Hunters Association

Kevin Papp
President - Minnesota Farm Bureau

David Torgerson
MN Association of Wheat Growers

Adam Birr
MN Corn Growers Association

Copy to:
Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, Commissioner Tom Landwehr MN Department of Natural Resources, Commissioner Dave Frederickson MN Department of Agriculture

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