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 Court Bars Wisconsin From Killing Gray Wolves
Elffster
Posted: Aug 22 2006, 01:22 AM


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August 11, 2006

BY FREDERIC J. FROMMER





WASHINGTON -- A federal court has issued a preliminary injunction barring Wisconsin from killing gray wolves, siding with animal welfare and environmental groups that argue the killing violates the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had issued a permit to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the killing of up to 43 gray wolves. The state argued the permit was necessary to maintain social tolerance for the wolves, which are listed as endangered.

But in a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly mocked that rationale.

''Simply put,'' she wrote in her decision, ''the recovery of the gray wolf is not supported by killing 43 gray wolves.''

Wolves were wiped out in Wisconsin in the 1950s after decades of bounty hunting. Since the animal was granted protection as an endangered species in the 1970s, wolves migrated back from Minnesota, and about 500 live mostly in northern and central Wisconsin.

In a statement Thursday, Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Chuck Traxler said, ''While we are disappointed that we are unable to give states the tools they need to deal with wolf depredation, we will certainly abide by the court's ruling, and we have notified the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources accordingly.''

Traxler added that government lawyers are still reviewing the ruling and no decision has been made on whether to appeal.

Livestock killings have tripled



The suit was brought by a coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups, including the Humane Society of the United States.

''This ruling creates an outstanding precedent for all other endangered species that are currently listed under the ESA [Endangered Species Act] and struggling to make a recovery,'' said Patricia Lane, an attorney for the Humane Society.

Adrian Wydeven, a state mammal ecologist with the DNR who oversees the Wisconsin wolf management program, said the decision will make it harder for the state to respond to problem wolves who kill livestock and pets.

Earlier this year, the state announced that gray wolves killed or injured livestock on 25 farms last year -- triple the number from four years ago.

''In rural areas, where wolves occur, when they start killing pets and livestock, people's tolerance of wolves declines drastically,'' he said. ''And if we don't have an ability to deal with and remove those problem wolves, that further erodes support for wolf recovery in an area. So we do need to remove and euthanize those problem wolves.''

Without that option, Wydeven said, people will start ''randomly'' killing wolves, without any attempt to single out trouble ones.
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