Farm Bureau Urges FWS to Move Ahead with Wolf De-listing

With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recovery goals clearly met, the grey wolf should be removed from the list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, Farm Bureau said in recent comments to the agency.  In fact, grey wolf numbers in the Midwest have far exceeded the federal government’s targets. 

“In July 2011, AFBF filed comments with FWS in reply to a proposal to de-list the grey wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan; we pointed out that wolf numbers even at that time were double the number of wolves needed for recovery,” the American Farm Bureau Federation wrote in its comments.  “There can be no question that the current status of wolves justifies their removal from the endangered species list.” 

Beyond the increase in numbers, the affected states have taken a positive, constructive approach to ensure continued recovery of the wolf, an important step toward de-listing under the under the Endangered Species Act. 

Farm Bureau also noted how FWS’ decision whether to de-list the grey wolf or not will directly affect Farm Bureau members because a listed species is guaranteed protections contained in various sections of the law, including those which prohibit certain activities on public and private land. 

In urging the agency to move ahead as proposed and remove the species from the list, the organization emphasized how FWS’ own position on the stability of the gray wolf population trend is in stark contrast to a number of emotion-based comments currently on the docket.

“While such comments may be heartfelt and sincere, it is important to note that decisions to list or de-list a species under the ESA must be based on criteria set out in the law enacted by Congress,” Farm Bureau said.  “In that context, the FWS appropriately has looked at the best available scientific and commercial information and determined that a listing for Canis lupus, Canis lupus nubilis and Canis lupis occidentalis is not warranted.”

Farm Bureau also addressed the Mexican Wolf Recovery Project.  Run jointly by FWS, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the White Mountain Apache Tribe and USDA’s Forest Service and Wildlife Service, the project provides a framework for reintroducing the Mexican wolf and monitoring the effort’s success.  Current estimates put the Mexican wolf population at at least 75 wolves in the eastern Arizona-western New Mexico area, well on the way to the recovery plan’s goal of re-establishing at least 100 wild wolves. 

“There is every reason to believe that the recovery program is on target to meet its goals and we believe it should be allowed to do so,” despite the fact that 80 percent of the Mexican wolf’s historical range is in Mexico, Farm Bureau said.

The organization is urging “FWS to allow Arizona and New Mexico to continue their efforts, in concert with the federal government, to protect the species in a manner that meets the goals of the ESA while protecting life and property in the rural communities affected by the listing and management of the Mexican wolf.”

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