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Published October 09, 2009, 12:00 AM

Federal wolf trapping to continue

The federal program that traps and kills problem wolves in Minnesota, and traps and moves them in Wisconsin and Michigan, will continue in 2010 under a provision in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that passed the U.S. House this week.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

The federal program that traps and kills problem wolves in Minnesota, and traps and moves them in Wisconsin and Michigan, will continue in 2010 under a provision in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that passed the U.S. House this week.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate and then President Obama, includes $727,000 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division to continue trapping wolves near where livestock or pets have been killed.

The provision, announced by U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., also allows for reimbursement to farmers who lose livestock.

In Minnesota, federal trappers have responded to 184 complaints of wolf problems and have trapped and killed 186 wolves so far this year, up from recent years. Most of those complaints are from farms where calves or small animals have been killed.

But in Wisconsin and Michigan, wolves that are trapped can’t be killed under federal law, and instead are moved away from where problems occur. Wisconsin has had complaints from 23 farms this year, said Adrian Wydeven, wolf biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota has about 3,200 wolves, while Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula each have about 500.

Wolves had been removed from the federal Endangered Species list for more than a year, but court action earlier this year has renewed federal protections for wolves in all three states. It again is illegal under federal law to kill or harass a wolf in the three states.

That same court action also made it illegal for federally trapped wolves in Wisconsin to be killed because the animal is considered officially endangered there. In Minnesota, wolves are listed as threatened.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to renew its efforts to remove federal wolf protections in the Great Lakes region — probably next year — noting the animal has recovered from the brink of extinction over the past 30 years.

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