The Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, and Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association applaud the decision by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to de-list the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List effective January 27 and return control back to the State of Minnesota.
USFWS announced Dec. 21 that it would publish a final delisting rule in the Federal Register on Dec. 28. After a 30-day period, the Minnesota DNR will reassume management of this species.
"We are pleased with the final decision to delist wolves in the region," said DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr. "This is a great success for the Endangered Species Act. Minnesota is ready to assume management of wolves under the guidance of the state's wolf plan."
Farm organizations are hopeful the federal decision will stand and that the de-listing process is not suspended or delayed due to legal action by certain interest groups. If legal challenges disrupt this de-listing process, as they have in the past, state farm organizations stand ready to aggressively press the Minnesota congressional delegation to immediately de-list the wolf and further protect its de-listing from frivolous lawsuits.
Despite de-listing, there still is a need for professional wolf trappers employed by the United States Department of Agriculture to respond to wolf complaints, according to the state farm organizations.
"It is deeply concerning that USDA officials continue to take the stance that they will not provide funding to pay for trappers in 2012. In fact, it appears there will be no trappers able to respond to wolf complaints starting January 1, and that several professional wolf trappers have received termination notices," they noted in a press release.
Also, despite de-listing, the organizations believe the Minnesota legislature should continue to fund the wolf depredation program to pay for livestock lost to wolves.
Moving forward, the farm organizations say they are ready to work with the state DNR, MDA and USDA to address funding issues and strategies for outreach and implementation of the state wolf management plan.
The state DNR says Minnesota has a population of about 3,000 gray wolves, the largest population in the lower 48 states. This is roughly twice the number required in the federal government's wolf recovery plan. The DNR, as it did after previous delisting rules in 2007 and 2009, will again manage the state's wolf population according to a management plan and under authorities approved by the state Legislature in 2000.