Minnesotans to force wolf delisting

Feb 12, 2010
by WLJ

Dale Lueck, a cattle rancher in north-central Minnesota, and Gerald Tyler, a retired real estate developer from Ely, MN, are moving forward with a lawsuit to force the Department of Interior and U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to delist the wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

On Jan. 15, 2010, Lueck and Tyler, frustrated with the government’s inability to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), filed notice of intent to sue Secretary of Interior Kenneth Salazar and three US- FWS officials. The agencies have 60 days to respond to the complaint. Absent a satisfactory response, they will seek relief in federal court.

An active member of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Lueck was involved in developing Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan and getting it passed by the Minnesota Legislature over 10 years ago. Lueck said, “It deeply troubles me that as a citizen, Mr. Tyler and I are forced to go into court to get our federal government to simply obey the law.”

The ESA is clear on the matter of delisting. Once a species is recovered, it must be delisted. Lueck said, “The wolf is recovered in the Midwest; the USFWS and our state agencies have done an excellent job on recovery.” In fact, the wolf was delisted and managed by Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan without incident for approximately 18 months in 2007-2008. In the fall of 2008, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., sided with the Humane Society of the United States and placed the Midwest wolves back under ESA protection.

Lueck and Tyler’s complaint zeros in on the fact that the 1992 Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan and ESA recovery criteria for the wolf in the Midwest have been fully met. The plan called for a sustained population of 1,251-1,400 wolves in Minnesota and an additional viable population in Wisconsin and Michigan of at least 100 wolves. Today, about 3,000-3,500 timber wolves exist in Minnesota, with about 1,000 more in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Lueck views the current situation as a huge distraction for USFWS. He said, “The wolf is recovered; we need to move on and give the USFWS credit for a job well done. We face real environmental issues that demand action now. Invasive species, both plant and animal, continue to invade our lakes. The fresh water fishery is under risk of catastrophic damage by diseases that are making their way toward us via the Great Lakes.”

Lueck added, “It’s time we step in and delist the wolves. That will allow the USFWS to focus on the real environmental problems we face here in the Midwest.” If you are interested in assisting Lueck and Tyler, they can be contacted at 218/927-2495. — WLJ