"Gray wolves (Canis lupus) living in the U.S. Great Lakes region no longer need the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), argue 26 scientists and wildlife managers in a letter sent this week to top federal officials. But other researchers are taking a decidedly different view.
The 18 November letter, sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is intended to support the federal government’s position that wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan are fully recovered and that states should now manage the species.
“Wolf recovery in these states is a great success story,” says L. David Mech, the letter’s first signer and a wolf biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in St. Paul. As of 2014, biologists estimate that more than 3700 wolves were residing in the Great Lakes region, surpassing FWS’s original recovery target of 300, set in 1992.
“The Great Lakes’ wolf populations have biologically recovered and no longer need to be managed as endangered,” says Adrian Wydeven, a retired state wildlife biologist in Ashland, Wisconsin, who helped draft the letter. There isn’t any “scientific evidence” that state agencies would mismanage the animals, or disrupt their dispersal into other states, Wydeven and his colleagues say".