Cattlemen Applaud Progress on Wolf Management
WASHINGTON - Ranchers are applauding a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes region from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. This proposal, announced March 16, would allow state and local cooperation to manage the gray wolf population in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Ohio.
“This proposal to delist the gray wolf will help cattlemen in the Great Lakes region who struggle daily with the threats wolves pose to livestock,” says Jeff Eisenberg, executive director of the Public Lands Council and director of federal lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Not only do wolves prey on livestock, but they are carriers of animal disease, and these threats have grown dramatically in the Great Lakes region in recent years.”
Wisconsin cattle producers reported 68 verified wolf complaints in 2005 compared to only two in 1995. Wolves kill livestock, causing direct losses to ranchers. But wolves also affect herd behavior and require ranchers’ to devote extra time and labor to protect remaining livestock. In addition, wolves are carriers of neosporosis, a parasitic disease that causes abortions and neurological damage in cattle. For these reasons, active management of wolf populations is a priority for ranchers.
In January, the Department of Interior transferred management of gray wolf populations in Idaho to the state, and in October 2005, the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a proposal to remove the Rocky Mountain population of the gray wolf from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species.
“We’re seeing a lot of progress being made with wolf management,” says Eisenberg. “Today’s announcement is another huge step toward better management of wolf populations and toward policies that better protect livestock and ranchers’ livelihoods.”
Official notice is expected in coming weeks, then the proposal will be subject to a 90-day comment period. In addition, FWS will conduct a series of public hearings in Michigan and Wisconsin to hear from local citizens, officials and stakeholders on this issue.
Visit www.fws.gov for more information.