Over half of Wisconsin's Congressional representatives have gone on record to support efforts to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered species. Republicans Paul Ryan, Tom Petri and Jim Sensenbrenner, along with Democrats Steve Kagen and Ron Kind, all signed a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urging him to consider a request by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to remove the animal's protective status.
The lawmakers say the growing gray wolf population prompted the DNR to ask the federal government for permission to reclassify the status of the wolf so state authorities would have more flexibility to control the population.
"As the gray wolf has grown in numbers, there have been greater incidents of wolf attacks on livestock and other animals," the letter stated. "This is a growing problem for farmers and residents throughout Wisconsin. While we applaud your department's efforts to compensate landowners, we do not believe that this is a sustainable policy."
They further noted that a decision to keep the wolf on the endangered species list will lead to more attacks, and thus more expenses for the government and landowners.
Last month, State DNR Secretary Matt Frank submitted a petition to Secretary Salazar asking for the delisting. He says wildlife biologists now count the wolf population in Wisconsin and Minnesota to exceed more than 4,000 animals. The current late winter estimate of more than 700 wolves in Wisconsin is more than twice the management goal level prescribed by the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan.
In April 2009, the federal government removed the wolves from the Endangered Species Act list in certain states, including Wisconsin. But two months later, animal rights groups reached a court-ordered settlement with the agency that restored those protections.