Wolf - Western Great Lakes
Midwest Region


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Feb. 8, 2007 Final Rule to Delist the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes DPS

This Final Rule is no longer in effect.

Go here for more information about the Rule and why it is no longer in effect.


Federal Register Notice of the Feb.8, 2007 Final Rule to Delist the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes DPS


Below is the Summary and a portion of the Background of the Final Rule. Go here for a PDF version of the complete 53-page Federal Register Notice.


Federal Register Notice/ Volume 71, No. 26
50 CFR Part 17


Title: Final Rule Designating the Western Great Lakes Populations of Gray Wolves as a Distinct Population Segment; Removing the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife




We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or USFWS) establish the Western Great Lakes (WGL) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). The geographic extent of this DPS includes all of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan; the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota; the northern half of Iowa; the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana; and the northwestern portion of Ohio. We also remove the WGL DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife established under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are taking these actions because available data indicate that this DPS no longer meets the definitions of threatened or endangered under the Act. The threats have been reduced or eliminated, as evidenced by a population that is stable or increasing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and greatly exceeds the numerical recovery criteria established in its recovery plan. Completed State wolf management plans will provide adequate protection and management of the WGL DPS after delisting. This final rule removes this DPS from the lists of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife, removes the currently designated critical habitat for the gray wolf in Minnesota and Michigan, removes the current special regulations for gray wolves in Minnesota and takes an administrative action that corrects gray wolf designations in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11 and the associated special regulations at § 17.40(n) and (o). DATES: This rule becomes effective on March 12, 2007.


DATES: This rule becomes effective on March 12, 2007.


ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at our Midwest Regional Office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Building, 1 Federal Drive, Ft. Snelling, Minnesota 55111–4056. Call 612–713– 5350 to make arrangements. The comments and materials we received during the comment period on the proposed rule also are available for public inspection and by appointment during normal business hours at this Regional Office and at our Ecological Services Field Offices in Bloomington, Minnesota (612–725–3548); New Frankin, Wisconsin (920–866–1717); and East Lansing, Michigan (517–351– 2555). Call those offices to make arrangements.


Ron Refsnider, 612–713–5350. Direct all questions or requests for additional information to the Service using the Gray Wolf Phone Line—612–713–7337, facsimile—612–713–5292, the general gray wolf electronic mail address— GRAYWOLFMAIL@FWS.GOV, or write to: GRAY WOLF QUESTIONS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Building, 1 Federal Drive, Ft. Snelling, Minnesota 55111–4056.


Additional information is also available on our World Wide Web site at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/ wolf.


In the event that our internet connection is not functional, please contact the Service by the alternative methods mentioned above.


Individuals who are hearing-impaired or speechimpaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8337 for TTY assistance.



Biology and Ecology of Gray Wolves
For a discussion of the biology and ecology of gray wolves and general recovery planning efforts, see the proposed WGL wolf rule published on March 27, 2006, (71 FR 15266–15305) and available on our World Wide Web site.


Recovery Criteria
The 1978 Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf (Recovery Plan) and the 1992 revised Recovery Plan (Revised Plan) contain the same two delisting criteria. The first delisting criterion states that the survival of the wolf in Minnesota must be assured. We, and the Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Team (Peterson in litt. 1997, 1998, 1999a, 1999b), have concluded that this first delisting criterion remains valid. It addresses a need for reasonable assurances that future State, Tribal, and Federal wolf management and protection will maintain a viable recovered population of gray wolves within the borders of Minnesota for the foreseeable future.


Although the Recovery Plan’s recovery criteria predate the scientific field of conservation biology, the conservation principles of representation (conserving the genetic diversity of a taxon), resilience (the ability to withstand demographic and environmental variation), and redundancy (sufficient populations to provide a margin of safety) were incorporated into these criteria. Maintenance of the Minnesota wolf population is vital because the remaining genetic diversity of gray wolves in the eastern United States was carried by the several hundred wolves that survived in the State into the early 1970s. The Recovery Team insisted that the remnant Minnesota wolf population be maintained and protected to achieve wolf recovery in the eastern United States. The successful growth of that remnant population has maintained and maximized the representation of that genetic diversity among gray wolves in the WGL DPS. Furthermore, the Recovery Plan established a planning goal of 1,250–1,400 animals for the Minnesota wolf population (USFWS 1992, p. 28), which would increase the likelihood of maintaining its genetic diversity over the long term. This large Minnesota wolf population also provides resiliency to reduce the adverse impacts of unpredictable demographic and environmental events. Furthermore, the Recovery Plan specifies a wolf population that is spread across about 40 percent of the State (Zones 1 through 4) (USFWS 1992, p. 28), adding a geographic component to the resiliency of the Minnesota wolf population.


The second delisting criterion in the Recovery Plan states that at least one viable wolf population should be reestablished within the historical range of the eastern timber wolf outside of Minnesota and Isle Royale, Michigan. The second population enhances both the resiliency and redundancy of the recovery program. The Recovery Plan provides two options for reestablishing this second population. If it is an isolated population, that is, located more than 100 miles (160 km) from the Minnesota wolf population, the second population should consist of at least 200 wolves for at least 5 years (based upon late-winter population estimates) to be considered viable. Alternatively, if the second population is located within 100 miles (160 km) of a self-sustaining wolf population (for example, the Minnesota wolf population), it would be considered viable if it maintained a minimum of 100 wolves for at least 5 years. Such a nearby second population would be viable at a smaller size, because it would exchange wolves with the Minnesota population (that is, they would function as a metapopulation), thereby bolstering the smaller second population genetically and numerically.


The Recovery Plan does not specify where in the eastern United States the second population should be reestablished. Therefore, the second population could be located anywhere within the triangular Minnesota-Maine- Florida area covered by the 1978 Recovery Plan and the 1992 Revised Recovery Plan, except on Isle Royale (Michigan) or within Minnesota. The 1992 Revised Recovery Plan retained potential gray wolf re-establishment areas in northern Wisconsin, the upper peninsula (UP) of Michigan, the Adirondack Forest Preserve of New York, a small area in eastern Maine, and a larger area of northwestern Maine and adjacent northern New Hampshire (USFWS 1992, pp. 56–58). Neither the 1978 nor the 1992 recovery criteria suggest that the restoration of the gray wolf throughout all or most of its historical range in the eastern United States, or to all of these potential reestablishment areas, is necessary to achieve recovery under the Act.


In 1998, the Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Team clarified the application of the delisting criterion for the second population to the wolf population that had developed in northern Wisconsin and the adjacent UP. The Recovery Team recommended that the numerical delisting criterion for the Wisconsin- Michigan population will be achieved when 6 consecutive late-winter wolf surveys document that the population equals or exceeds 100 wolves (excluding Isle Royale wolves) for the 5 consecutive years between the 6 surveys (Peterson in litt. 1998). This second population is less than 200 miles from the Minnesota wolf population.


View the entire 53-page Final Rule to Delist the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes DPS (Adobe PDF)


February 8 , 2007


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Last updated: September 12, 2016