Archive of Previous Federal Actions Affecting Gray Wolf ESA Status
May 5, 2011: Proposal to Remove ESA Protection for Gray Wolves in Western Great Lakes DPS and the National Wolf Strategy
The Service proposed revising and removing the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of gray wolves (Canis lupus) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Additionally, we proposed removing other Endangered Species Act protections for this DPS: gray wolf critical habitat in Minnesota and Michigan and the gray wolf special rule in Minnesota (which defined the circumstances when gray wolves could be taken in Minnesota).
Over the last 30 years advances in genetic analysis techniques led to a number of wolf genetics studies. As a result of those studies, scientists proposed changes to wolf taxonomy. Because listing decisions are based on taxonomic entities (species, subspecies, distinct population segments of species), the Service undertook a review of wolf taxonomy studies and data interpretation in the lower 48 states. That review concluded that the gray wolf subspecies known as the eastern timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) should be elevated to species status, the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon). Thus, acocording that that review, two species of wolves are present in the western Great Lakes: gray wolf (Canis lupus) and eastern wolf (Canis lycaon).
At the time of the proposal, the gray wolf was listed as endangered throughout the eastern United States, even though under the new wolf taxonomy, that area is the historical range of the eastern wolf. To correct the gray wolf listing, the Service proposed removing all or parts of 29 eastern and southeastern states that were considered within the historical range of the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) or the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Service also initiated a status review of the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) throughout its range in the United States and Canada.
About the National Wolf Strategy
Included in the Federal Register Proposed Rule to Delist the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes DPS is a discussion of our National Wolf Strategy and steps towards implementing that strategy. The Service developed a national strategy to ensure long-term survival of wolf species and subspecies in the lower 48 states. Under the strategy, the Service will assess wolf populations and determine whether they are appropriately protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal to delist the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment is part of the strategy.
Under the National Wolf Strategy four gray wolf entities (i.e., species, subspecies, or DPSs) were identified for possible listing actions:
In conjunction with the proposal to remove ESA protection for the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment and revise the range of the gray wolf in the east, the national wolf strategy includes initiation of reviews to resolve the status of gray wolves in the Pacific Northwest and of Mexican wolves – a gray wolf subspecies – in the Southwest. These reviews, along with the range wide review of Canis lycaon, will allow the Service to cohesively address all existing wolf populations in the lower 48 states and Mexico in terms of their appropriate listing classification.
Comment Period Reopened from August 26 to September 26, 2011
Federal Register Notice (Aug. 26, 2011): Revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife for the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Eastern United States: correction and reopening of comment period
An Account of the Taxonomy of North American Wolves from Morphological and Genetic Analyses by Steven M. Chambers, Steven R. Fain, Bud Fazio, Michael Amaral (169-page PDF; 1MB) - - This version of the manuscript does not include all the figures, because of copyright issues. However, the full manuscript, including the copyrighted materials, is now available at http:\\www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R3–ES–2011–0029.
Ashland, WI Public Hearing Transcript
A formal public hearing was held at the Great Lakes Center near Ashland, WI, on May 18, 2011. Here is the official
Ashland, WI Public Hearing Transcript (60-page pdf; 91KB).