The gray wolf will no longer be considered a threatened or endangered species in Minnesota and other states in the western Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain areas, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Friday.
Gray wolves were first listed as an endangered species in 1974 when populations had all but disappeared from the continental United States.
According to a press release from the Department of the Interior, the gray wolf population in the United is currently at about 5,500.
Even though wolves have been considered recovered for 10 years now, University of Minnesota Fisheries and Wildlife Professor David Mech said bureaucratic processes and lawsuits have led to the gray wolf being removed and put back on the threatened and endangered species list multiple times.
“It’s a big deal in the sense that it finally happened,” Mech said. “But it happened before and it could be that with more court cases it could be back on that list.”
Mech said the removal of wolves from the list will not have a significant impact on wolf populations; instead it will transfer oversight responsibilities from federal agencies to state agencies.
“About the only real change is that in some parts of the state… a farmer seeing a wolf in the act of killing its livestock or chasing it or something can kill it,” Mech said, “where under the federal rules you cannot.”