MADISON — With the announcement today that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is removing the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protection (exit DNR), Wisconsin’s long fought battle to manage growing wolf populations within its borders is nearly over. Gov. Scott Walker has charged the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with being ready to begin implementing Wisconsin’s Wolf Management plan by Feb. 1, 2012.
“We are eager and ready to take on the challenges of wolf management,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We appreciate Governor Walker’s attention to this issue.”
Stepp also thanked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (exit DNR) for their responsiveness to the concerns that she raised, especially with regard to their finding that the population of wolves in the Western Great Lakes is a single species. In addition, she praised the work of Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation and that of Michigan and Minnesota in raising the importance of addressing this issue now at the national level.
“I want to acknowledge the citizens of Wisconsin for their patience as we worked on the delisting,” said Stepp. “They were persistent in bringing their concerns to my attention. It is because of that persistence that we were able to achieve the delisting.”
Today’s action is only the first step in the process. Once wolves are delisted, the DNR will be able to do depredation controls, via trapping and permits to landowners in depredation areas.
“While the department is committed to long-term conservation of wolves in Wisconsin, it is critical that we be allowed to manage wildlife populations within our borders,” said Stepp.