Archived Story

Animal welfare groups sue to end Midwest wolf hunt

Published 9:43am Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday to restore federal protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region that were lifted last year.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, said the decision to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list threatens the animals’ recovery throughout most of their historic range. At one time, the animals roamed nearly all of North America.

The Humane Society of the United States provided a copy of the lawsuit before its public announcement in the afternoon. The other plaintiffs include Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment.

Hunters and trappers in Minnesota and Wisconsin killed 530 wolves combined during those states’ recently concluded seasons — 413 in Minnesota and 117 in Wisconsin. The Michigan Legislature voted in December to authorize wolf hunting, which could resume as early as this fall if the state’s Natural Resources Commission approves.

“In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed hundreds of Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations,” Jonathan Lovvorn, chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the HSUS, said in a statement. “This decision rolls back the only line of defense for wolf populations, and paves the way for the same state-sponsored eradication policies that pushed this species to the brink of extinction in the first place.”