A federal judge is allowing the Minnesota DNR to weigh in on a citizen's lawsuit seeking to force federal officials to end the protected status of upper-Midwest timberwolves.
U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen is allowing the DNR and three sportsmen's organizations to participate in the suit as friends of the court.
Ely Attorney Gerald Tyler and Aitkin cattle farmer Dale Luek filed the original lawsuit, which alleges the wolves' protected status has caused harm, including the loss of cattle to wolves on Luek's farm. Dan Stark, a DNR wolf specialist, said upper-Midwest wolf populations have recovered.
"By all measures of recovery, wolves have exceeded the population goals of the wolf recovery plan for Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan," he said.
Stark said Minnesota's wolves were taken off federal protection in March 2007, and again in May 2009. Legal actions by environmental groups reversed both of those decisions.
Joining the DNR as friends of the court are the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance, the Safari Club International, and the National Rifle Association of America.
Tyler said the DNR and the three sporting organizations can help make a case for de-listing.
"They have a significant interest in the outcome of our lawsuit, and they can aid the court in an understanding of the case," he said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked the suit be dismissed, saying the two Minnesotans don't have a sufficient stake in the situation to sue.