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Klobuchar, Oberstar request review of endangered species status for Minnesota wolves

Washington DC -Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Jim Oberstar are asking for a federal review to determine if the Gray Wolf in Minnesota should remain on the endangered species list. Minnesota's wolf population has doubled over the past two decades and packs are now ranging as far south as the Mora area in Kanabec County.

"Although wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare, we are seeing an increase in the number of attacks on pets and livestock. History has shown that wolf packs do not coexist well with human populations," said Oberstar. "We need to make sure a good management plan is in place as the wolf population continues to grow and come into contact with people."

Oberstar and Klobuchar have written the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department requesting a scientific review of Minnesota's wolf population to see if a new designation is needed.

"The Endangered Species Act has helped bring numerous species back from the brink of extinction. Like the Bald Eagle, the Gray Wolf has been able to reestablish itself and increase its range," said Klobuchar. "Now that the wolf range in Minnesota is coming close to farms, homes, and businesses delisting would give the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources the ability to implement its own management plan."

The wolf management plan that has been proposed by the Minnesota DNR would not allow hunting or trapping of wolves for at least five years. It also establishes a minimum population of 1,600 wolves to ensure the long term viability of the species.

A copy of Klobuchar and Oberstar's letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service is attached in addition to a graphic depicting the range of the Gray Wolf in Minnesota.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. Gould:

We write to encourage you to review the latest science on the gray wolf population in Minnesota and, if appropriate, remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list.

In March 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that the gray wolf population in Minnesota had exceeded its ESA target and in turn removed the Wolf from the ESA list. In September 2008, a federal judge rescinded the March 2007 USFWS decision. In May 2009, after addressing the technicalities raised in the 2008 decision, the USFWS again delisted the wolf and management of the wolf in Minnesota was returned to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Two months later, in response to a lawsuit challenging the removal, the gray wolf was relisted.

In the 1950s, Minnesota's wolf population was estimated at fewer than 750 animals. The ESA recovery plan establishes a minimum population of 1,600 wolves to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf in Minnesota. The most recent estimates of Minnesota's wolf population, according to the Minnesota DNR's winter 2007-2008 count, indicate that there are an estimated 3,000 wolves in the state.

This increase in the wolf population provides strong evidence that the Endangered Species Act has been successful. Like other endangered species success stories, such as the Bald Eagle, delisting will allow states like Minnesota to implement and enforce their own species protection plans. The Minnesota DNR currently has a management plan ready to implement if the USFWS delists the gray wolf from the ESA. Under Minnesota's plan, there will be no public hunting or trapping seasons for wolves for at least five years. The plan establishes a minimum population of 1,600 wolves to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf in Minnesota, and should the population falls below the minimum the Minnesota DNR will examine reasons behind the decline and adjust wolf management accordingly.

We are confident that the ESA has served its purpose and that the Minnesota DNR is ready and capable of ensuring the continued success of the wolf recovery and we urge you to consider the science and make your determination in a timely manner.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.