New effort to take gray wolves off endangered list in Minnesota, Wisconsin

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Another effort is being made to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list in Midwestern states including Minnesota.

WSAU reports that legislation that would end the wolves' endangered status in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming has been introduced in Washington by Republican Senators Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and John Barrasso (Wyoming).

They argue the wolves are no longer endangered in these states, and their legislation would allow 2011 and 2012 orders to de-list the animals made by the Interior Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stand, according to the Associated Press.

MPR reports that these orders were thrown out by federal judges last December, putting them back on the endangered list in Minnesota and making it a federal crime to shoot or trap them.

The news organization says though that any measures introduced in Washington are likely to be vigorously opposed by animal protection advocates, who say the wolves' status in the western Great Lakes and northern Rockies region "remains precarious."

Sen. Johnson disagrees, telling WEAU: "After over 30 years of needed protection and professional pack population management, the wolf has made its comeback.

"In 2011, the administration’s Department of the Interior determined the number of wolves in the western Great Lakes states to be sufficient and growing and made the correct decision to de-list them as an endangered species."

The decision to put the wolves back on the list caused much consternation among Minnesota livestock owners who were banned from using lethal methods to ward the predators off their land.

In response, Minnesota's legislature pledged more than $200,000 of federal and state funding toward "wolf damage management" work, with a compensation fund for farmers and ranchers also set up.

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