Federal officials reject threatened status for wolves

Gray wolf
In this photo released by Michigan Technological University, a gray wolf is shown in Isle Royale National Park in 2006.
John Vucetich | Michigan Technological University via AP 2006

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday rejected a petition to classify the gray wolf as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In most states, wolves are listed as endangered and can only be killed for threatening a human life. But in Minnesota, where there are about 2,400 wolves, they are listed as threatened, and federal trappers can kill wolves within a half mile of a verified attack on pets or livestock.

In 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections for the wolf in the Great Lakes region. But in December a judge reversed that decision.

When proposals emerged in Congress to remove wolves from endangered species protection altogether, the Humane Society of the United States asked the federal government to classify wolves everywhere as threatened.

The group called that a compromise between the more restrictive endangered listing for wolves and removing wolves from that list.

"This is something that we think you could extend throughout the country," said Ralph Henry, a Humane Society attorney. "It would alleviate a lot of the pressure that we're seeing, especially in the most populated areas like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin."

The Fish and Wildlife Service said the petitioners didn't demonstrate that reclassifying the wolf was warranted.

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