U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany of the 7th Congressional District has introduced legislation to permanently remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list and give management control back to state wildlife officials.

“Wolf attacks on pets and livestock are becoming commonplace and the soaring wolf population is beginning to do long-term damage to the hunting industry — enough is enough,” said Tiffany.

Tiffany’s bill, called the Managing Predators Act, would allow officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming to control the gray wolf population by permanently barring federal officials from interfering in state wolf management efforts.

 “It’s time to end the era of urban judges and paper-pushers a thousand miles away in Washington, D.C., micromanaging Wisconsin wildlife policies,” said Tiffany.

While the Wisconsin wolf population has fluctuated somewhat in modern history, the highest number was registered between 2016 and 2017 with 925 wolves. The 2018-’19 midwinter count estimated that there is a minimum of 914 to 978 individual wolves and 243 packs in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin farmers, ranchers and sportsmen have seen enough real-world evidence to know that it is their livelihood and future that’s endangered, not the gray wolf,” Tiffany concluded. 

When the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was permitted to manage the gray wolf, Wisconsin held wolf hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In northeast Wisconsin, Zone 2 including Vilas and Oneida counties, there are an estimated 220 to 239 wolves in about 58 packs, according to the 2018-’19 wolf count.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has submitted a proposal to delist wolves from the endangered species list, but Tiffany says it’s time for action.

“For too long, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been converted by the radical environmental lawsuit industry into a statutory ‘Hotel California,’ one where unelected federal bureaucrats and well-funded lobbyists see to it that animals ‘check-in’ to the threatened and endangered list —– but never leave,” said Tiffany. “Meanwhile, rural communities with no say in the process are stuck with the consequences.”

U.S Rep. Pete Stauber of the 8th Congressional District in Minnesota co-authored the bill.

Stauber said there has been wolf depredation in his state.

“Despite the gray wolf’s evident recovery, well-funded activists were able to litigate the species back on the endangered species list, much to the detriment of deer hunters, farmers and families in my district,” said Stauber.

“A cow is easily worth thousands of dollars, so it is incredibly problematic that our farmers have no legal avenue to protect their livestock should a gray wolf attack. It was never the purpose of the Endangered Species Act to permanently list a species, so I am proud to join my colleague, Congressman Tiffany, in introducing legislation that empowers states to properly manage their own gray wolf population,” said Stauber.

Leaders of several organizations support Tiffany’s legislation.

Bill Yingst, chair of the Wolf Committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, expressed the group’s backing of the legislation.

“We fully support the bill and agree that it is time to return this responsibility to the states,” said Yingst.

Luke Hilgemann, chief executive officer for Hunter Nation, also endorsed the legislation. 

“On behalf of the nearly 50,000 hunters who have signed our petition to de-list the gray wolf, Hunter Nation is grateful for champions like Congressman Tiffany who has been a tireless advocate for sportsmen,” Hilgemann said. “We look forward to advancing this important bill that will finally allow states to manage these apex predators and restore balance to our outdoor resources.”

Lucas Withrow, vice president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, expressed support as well.

“Wisconsin’s bear hunters applaud the introduction of this bill which delivers the long overdue return of wolf management to the state of Wisconsin. Our state has proven it can successfully sustain and manage wolves,” said Withrow. “The past few years our state has been without the ability to manage wolf populations and it has caused many unknown and unnecessary depredations and negative impacts on our hunting and farming communities. Wolves need to be managed for public tolerance within the wolf range and the health of the wolves themselves.” 

Erica Tergeson, director of hunting policy for the National Rifle Association, also praised the legislation.

“It is high time wolf management was taken from the federal government and returned to the states. The federal cookie cutter approach does not take into consideration the unique needs of states,” said Tergeson. “Wolf populations have increased exponentially and need to be held in check to protect livestock, humans and other wildlife. Congressman Tiffany’s bill would do just that.”