WASHINGTON D.C. (USFWS) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reached a settlement agreement with plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Service's 2009 rule removing Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes. Under the terms of the agreement, which must still be approved by the court, the Service will provide an additional opportunity for public comment on the rule to ensure compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act.
Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area have exceeded recovery goals and continue to thrive under state management. However, the Service agrees with plaintiffs that additional public review and comment was required under federal law prior to making that final decision. Upon acceptance of this agreement by the court, and while the Service gathers additional public comment, gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area will again be protected under the Endangered Species Act. All restrictions and requirements in place under the Act prior to the delisting will be reinstated. In Minnesota, gray wolves will be considered threatened; elsewhere in the region, gray wolves will be designated as endangered. The Service will continue to work with states and tribes to address wolf management issues while Western Great Lakes gray wolves remain under the protection of the Act.