Editorial: Klobuchar aids wolf delisting in Minnesota
The effort to delist the gray wolf in Minnesota took a step forward last week, thanks to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn.
Minnesota has been ready for years to assume management of the gray wolf from the federal government, but environmentalists and the courts have blocked every effort, noting that while the gray wolf may be plentiful in Minnesota it isn't in other states bordering Canada and thus still needs protecting.
Sen. Klobuchar called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to expedite the delisting of the Great Lakes gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act list. Recent estimates indicate Minnesota's wolf population is nearly 3,000 strong - nearly double the 1,600 minimum the act requires to ensure long-term survival. The increased numbers have the potential to threaten residents, livestock and the state's hunting industry, which contributes more than $600 million a year to Minnesota's economy, the senator noted.
"The Endangered Species Act has helped bring numerous species back from the brink of extinction, and like the bald eagle, the gray wolf has made a comeback in our state," Sen. Klobuchar said. "But now these wolves are hurting our farms, families and businesses, and our hunting industry. It is time for a plan that ensures we restore balance to our natural habitats."
Secretary Salazar listened and ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expedite removing the Great Lakes gray wolf from the endangered species list in Minnesota and western Great Lakes states. The action is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.
The action, Sen. Klobuchar says, "will help restore balance to our natural habitats."
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources currently has a management plan ready to implement when USFWS delists the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act.
Sen. Klobuchar also plans to introduce backup legislation to ensure that the delisting occurs. Legislation aims to avoid legal delays that have so far prevented the delisting process of the gray wolf in Minnesota.
It's an action long overdue but one that will be appreciated by Minnesota farmers and ranchers who have had no recourse in wolf depredation. And Minnesota's plan is well-balanced, seeking to control numbers of wolf without bringing the gray wolf back to the brink of extinction as it once was.
It's also an issue in which we need to move forward. For some, the end of 2011 won't come soon enough.