As of today, western Great Lakes gray wolves no longer protected by feds

As of today, [western Great Lakes] gray wolves no longer protected by feds

“Lovvorn concedes that there is no longer the kind of anti-wolf sentiment that existed in the decades leading up to the animal’s placement on the endangered list.”

Perhaps some folks on this side of the country might take a hint?







  1. ESH Avatar

    I now live in northeastern Oregon, within the bounds of the proposed Northern Rockies delisting region, but I’m originally from Wisconsin. The Midwest wolf recovery serves, in many respects, as a great example to the West. Many times I tracked wolves in the Central Forest of Wisconsin, a swath of mostly public timber in the middle of the state, distinct (as far as corridors of protected land) from the larger northwoods proper. Several decades ago, intrepid wolves from the northern forests dispersed into this de facto wilderness (in character anyway feeling wilder than many northwoods locales-in my opinion) and since have flourished into many packs.

    The heart of the Central Forest’s patchwork of wildlife refuges, state wildlife areas, and state forests is relatively lonesome; but it certainly does not qualify as roadless wilderness, far removed from human settlement, by any definition. Yet wolves seem to thrive here (beset occasionally by mange). The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful and expansive stretch of marshland, pine forest, and oak savanna, is little-visited, but has become well-known as the breeding range for an artificially-reared population of Whooping Cranes. The towns surrounded the Refuge have begun to market themselves as ecotourist (birding) destinations; perhaps wolves will become similarly celebrated.

    I think this is a good testament to the subtle and unassisted recovery of Great Lakes wolves, a tribute to their adaptability and opportunism. I have a strong feeling wolves in the Rocky Mountain and Intermountain West — even perhaps on the western fringe of the Great Plains — could survive in moderate numbers in places we consider less-than-suitable habitat; after all, I’m not sure how many biologists would have predicted the successful invasion and re-colonization of the Central Forest back in the 1970s. But again–we’re talking about human carrying capacity, and in the western rangelands this can be quite low.

  2. Moose Avatar

    I also applaud the successful return of the wolf to the Great Lakes region. I hope any subsequent lawsuit to halt the delisting is not successful. Apparently several groups are planning to file suit – the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Protection Institute, Help Our Wolves Live, and the Minnesota Wolf Alliance. I don’t believe they will be doing wolves any favors by pursuing this course of action.

  3. chris Avatar

    An amazing accomplishment for the biologists, general public, and wolves of the Great Lakes states. The ESA is all about recovering species so they can retain the status and management tools that all other wildlife receive. I would expect the anti-hunting groups to sue. They’ve never been on board with endangered species recovery or wildlife conservation.

  4. kt Avatar

    Of course chris knows that is not the case – and just wants to smear some of the diveristy of people who care about wildlife but don’t feel a need to kill them to show just how much they care.

    My question is for ESH: How would you compare the roading in Wisconsin, Minnesota to, say, the average non-wilderness public lands in NE Oregon, or in Idaho? I’m wondering because the Oakleaf et al. 2006 paper that forms some of the basis for FWS at the de-listing meetings saying lands are not suitable for wolves is based SOME on habitat fragmentation by roading and some other habitat factors, and a BUNCH on livestock “conflicts”. Do you know if there have been models developed of habitat in the central states, and how they may compare to what is proposed to be coming down in the West?

  5. Sean O'Quinn Avatar
    Sean O’Quinn

    I live in Spokane and know a number of reintroduction opponents. Many claim that the introduced wolves are larger than those that existed historically. Is there any information on this issue?

    Thank you

    Here ya go ! – BE

  6. chris Avatar

    Apologies to all for venturing off topic, but I’d like to offer a one-time response to kt’s presumptuous dismissal of my opinion.

    The majority of wildlife management deals with animals considered too abundant or too scarce. Most people consider regulated hunting of sustainable populations a good way of managing wildlife considered too abundant (like white-tailed deer or snow geese which are damaging their habitat). As for dealing with endangered species, most anti-hunting groups don’t make them a priority unless it involves hunting. That’s okay, different groups and people have different opinions and priorities.

    Case in point, what did the Humane Society of the U.S. do for wolf recovery before hunting came up? Nothing, because it’s not a priority for them. Groups like Defenders and NWF don’t mind hunting and have been all over wolf recovery.

    Anti-hunting groups often do things that hurt endangered species because they’re only thinking about hunting. They try to ban leg hold traps which would also end monitoring, research, and reintroduction of endangered predators like lynx and red wolves. They have successfully sued to stop control of predators preying on isolated populations of endangered clapper rails (CA) and roseate terns (MA). In situations like these they I feel they are hurting endangered species by ignoring them.

  7. ESH Avatar

    kt: I don’t know of any specific models offhand, although I do recall some discussion of Great Lakes road density vs. wolf propagation in some of my wildlife ecology classes. I can’t speak about Minnesota, but I would definitely say that the Wisconsin road network is more extensive than northeastern Oregon. The northern forests are laced with logging and Forest Service roads; the Central Forest I spoke of in my earlier post has comparable road density within its bounds, and much higher to the south. There are certainly roadless areas in Wisconsin — pine barrens, cedar swamps, etc. — but they are on a smaller scale than in Western states.

    From what I’ve seen of western Oregon, both on the ground and from maps, the coastal ranges have a similarly complex system of old logging roads — although, as we’ve seen with some of the unfortunate outdoor deaths in the past year, these may be ‘roads’ only by the slimmest definition. Anyway, northeastern Oregon seems to be more lightly networked with highways and even logging roads. I remember attending a talk by Adrian Wydeven, one of the leading wolf biologists with the Wisconsin DNR, and he said that most of Wisconsin was not ideal wolf habitat, because there were too many roads and too many people. Livestock issues aren’t on the same scale, obviously, as in the West — although bear hunters do protest pretty vigorously because of wolves killing their hounds.

    Again, I was a little surprised to read that Ed Bangs didn’t think that much wolf habitat existed in eastern Oregon. I understand that the desert (which has NO shortage of lonesome spaces) is marginal wolf country, but — and correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m a recent transplant to the West — it seems to me that northeast Oregon, with the Blue and Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, is comparable to a fair amount of the wolf-inhabited areas of Montana and Idaho in terms of wild ungulate populations and human/livestock density.

  8. kt Avatar

    It’s becoming more apparent that a lot of what is driving what FWS is deeming “suitable” habitat is livestock, and primarily public lands livestock. So instead of asking “What can the Forest Service and BLM do to NOT turn out wolves on den sites, rendezvous sites, avoid likely conflict areas”, the FWS answer, is Livestock largely = No Habitat. We must demand that agencies act in the public interest, and change livestock grazing on land that we all own to reduce conflicts. Is the difference in WI and MN is that the livestock are primarily on private lands, and much better cared for than cattle and sheep grazed on public lands in the West?

    If you have paid access to on-line journals, the Oakleaf et al. 2006 article in the Journal of Wild. Mgmt. starts to really lay out the “sociological” definition of habitat that FWS now is relying on. And in the Kempthorne Interior Secretary world, I think the sociological element is the driving force.

    This is also shown in the FG Powerpoint slides where “no tolerance” is laid out.

    Here is a link to an article based on an Oregon Wolf Potential modeled in a Thesis by Tad Larsen:

    Oregon potentially supporting 1450 to 2200 wolves, depending on whether “industrial forestry” lands are included or not. And look at the map, vs. Idaho …

  9. kt Avatar

    I meant “not turn out livestock on” wolf den sites …. in the above …

  10. elkhunter Avatar


    So your just gonna say to a wolf, stay in the Cascades and dont leave. And they will stay. Its not that simple, if you put 2,000 wolves anywhere they will just move around and infest other states and areas. We dont need wolves. We have not had them in UT for a hundred years and we are doin just fine. Be content with them in ID. How many states would really honestly want the circus that ID has right now. That alone is enough to not want wolves in my state.

  11. Moose Avatar

    “Is the difference in WI and MN is that the livestock are primarily on private lands, and much better cared for than cattle and sheep grazed on public lands in the West?”

    I would venture that very little, if any, livestock in MN or WI is on public land. The scale and practices of livestock “farming” in the Midwest is in no way comparable to out West. Again, I would caution against drawing many parallels between the two.

    “Oregon potentially supporting 1450 to 2200 wolves, ”

    No way…I find it hard to believe the SE WA and NE OR area could support more than 500 wolves.

  12. ESH Avatar

    Moose: The study cited seems to estimate 460 wolves for northeastern Oregon.

    And we mustn’t forget that the Blue/Wallowa Mountains region support some of the highest elk populations in the state. This is also the only area in Oregon to currently support moose (a small but burgeoning population).

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Brian Ertz