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E-M:/ Wolf Delisting Proposal

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Enviro-Mich folks:

I don't think this issue has been posted before -- if it was I apologize up

Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt has within the last month and one half
announced his plan to move forward with removing the wolf from listing under
the federal Endangered Species Act.  While there is great excitement that the
success of the much maligned ESA has allowed us to get to the point that such
a proposal can be seriously considered, Secty. Babbitt is evidently in
such a hurry to get good public relations on this proposed action that
the Department of Interior seems to have decided to cut out essential steps in
the delisting process in order to speed it up.

All the steps in the process that are to be used have yet to be fully revealed
by the Dept. of Interior, but this much is evidently planned right now:  The
Dept. of Interior intends to put out a proposed rule for public comment at the
beginning of 1999.  If the wolf is delisted under ESA, the states within which
it dwells will have then total authority over its management, including the
ability to set control strategies and hunting seasons.

What is incomprehensible to many of us familiar with this process is that the
proposed timeline Dept. of Interior would follow would mean that the wolf
management plan for Minnesota, which is the primary source of the wolves in
Michigan, will not even be completed or adopted prior to the completion of the
decision to delist.  In Minnesota, such a plan will require approval of the
legislature, and while the MN DNR is working on drafting its proposal, not a
soul expects that the final plan will be completed prior to the Dept. of
Interior's current decision date.

In addition, other critical questions have not been addressed.  While the wolf
population in this region appears to be healthy and thriving, in other parts
of the lower 48 recovery is just barely starting, or will require much more
time to begin.  Yet despite Mr. Babbitt's extensive feel good comments to the
press about delisting, the most basic questions about what populations of
wolves will be delisted, whether all wolves will be delisted or just the upper
Great Lakes wolves, whether the delisting will torpedo reintroduction efforts
in the New England states, whether the delisting will adversely effect
populations in the Northern Rockies, NONE of these major questions have been
answered at all by the agency.  

All of which gets to the biggest question:  Why would Mr. Babbitt be in such a
rush to delist this critter, when the precedents set here could damage
protection efforts for dozens of other recovering species?  If DOI cuts
corners on this, one of the most visible endangered species and a true success
story, what will happen to other species?  

You should expect to hear a great deal more about this topic over the next
several months. 

Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club

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