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House bill would remove wolves – again – from endangered list in Minnesota, Wisconsin

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A small part of a big bill introduced in Congress this week would take the gray wolf off the endangered species list in four states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The provision included in a government funding bill would order the Secretary of the Interior to reissue a rule that took wolves off the list in the western Great Lakes in 2011, MPR News reports.

The bill also stipulates that the move would not be subject to review by a court, MPR says.

It was a federal court ruling in December that returned wolves to the endangered list, ending hunting seasons that had been managed by the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The provision in the new House bill would also affect Wyoming.

Minnesota's Betty McCollum is the top Democrat on the House subcommittee where Republicans introduced the bill.

In a statement, McCollum called the wolf provision "overreach," and wrote:

"Our committee’s role is to appropriate the necessary funds to allow the expert staff of scientists and professionals to do their jobs working to protect endangered species. This bill should not be mandating which species do or do not require protection. "

While the gray wolf has not returned to its former range across the country, some biologists have argued the animal's numbers in Minnesota are healthy enough that the endangered designation is not warranted.

Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson is among those in Congress pushing to return wolf management to the states in the Great Lakes.

In a statement opposing the new House provision, Brett Hartl, an official with the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “The American people know that the gray wolf’s still-fragile recovery is one of the Endangered Species Act’s great success stories, and they want wolves protected until the job is done."

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