There's a new push in Washington to take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species List in four states where the animal's numbers have bounced back.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is one of the authors of a bill introduced Tuesday that would let those states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming – set their own policies for managing wolves, instead of having to go by the federal law, the Endangered Species Act.
The state policies could include a hunting season to keep the wolf population in check.
Does this feel like déjà vu?
If this idea of turning wolf management over to the states sounds familiar, that might be because we already did it five years ago. Then we undid it a few years later after a court ruling.
Back in 2012 the Fish & Wildlife Service took the gray wolf off the endangered list ("de-listed" it, some people call it) because biologists said wolf populations were healthy in those four states.
But that decision was challenged in court. And in 2014 a federal judge agreed with the challengers. The court ruling said even though its numbers had recovered in a few states, wolves are still found in only a small fraction of their original range – which used to be pretty much the whole country.
New bill has bipartisan support
The new bill that would let the states manage their wolves has five authors, two Democrats and three Republicans. Besides Klobuchar, the other authors are the senators from Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Klobuchar said in a statement that during 30-plus years on the Endangered Species List wolves have repopulated Minnesota. She says there are more than 2,000 in the state now, which is above the goal set by wildlife managers.
In areas where wolves are plentiful, people have complained about losing livestock or pets to wolf attacks. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says “I’ve heard from farmers, sportsmen and wildlife experts, and they all agree. The wolf has recovered, and we must return its management back to the State of Wisconsin..."
The Duluth News Tribune notes that both the Senate bill and one in the House have provisions that say they're not subject to review by a court.