The U.S. Department of Agriculture's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will expedite removing the Great Lakes gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list in Minnesota and western Great Lakes states, Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced today.
The announcement comes after Klobuchar called on Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to expedite delisting of the western Great Lakes gray wolf in a letter sent earlier this week. The Department of Interior stated in a response letter today that the expedited process Klobuchar pushed for will result in the removal of the gray wolf by the USFWS by the end of 2011.
"The gray wolf population has made a comeback in Minnesota, and now it is threatening our local communities," Klobuchar said. "The decision to remove the gray wolf from the ESA list will protect Minnesota families, farms and businesses and our state's hunting industry and will help restore balance to our natural habitats."
Recent estimates indicate Minnesota's wolf population is nearly 3,000 strong - nearly double the 1,600 minimum the ESA requires to ensure long-term survival - and the increased numbers have the potential to threaten residents, livestock and the state's hunting industry, which contributes over $600 million a year to Minnesota's economy.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources currently has a management plan ready to implement when FWS delists the gray wolf from the ESA.
Klobuchar also plans to introduce backup legislation to ensure that the delisting occurs. The legislation aims to avoid legal delays that have so far prevented the delisting process of the gray wolf in Minnesota.
Reprinted in part from myfoxtwincities.com