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Wolf hunt draws lawsuit

The Humane Society of the United States filed a lawsuit Tuesday, Feb. 12 in Washington D.C. against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Interior Department.

The lawsuit asks courts to put Upper Midwest grey wolves back on the federal endangered species list. It said the government's decision to de-list Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan wolves threatens the animals' overall recovery.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Friends of Animals, Help Our Wolves Live, and Born Free USA. Wisconsin has been above its wolf population quota for years, and the animals kill farm livestock and damage crops. That's why Wisconsin adopted a wolf hunt, in which 117 animals were shot and trapped in just over two months.

The season was supposed to end in late February, but the hunting quota was reached in late December. Humane Society lawyer Jonathan Lovvorn said the hunts took place under, "hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations."

He said the removal from the endangered list was quote, "the only line of defense for wolf populations" which are being pushed to the "brink of extinction." The USFWS said the wolf population had recovered - and as a result, it did what was required by law in removing the species from the endangered list.

The head of Wisconsin's DNR, Cathy Stepp, says it would be in nobody's best interest to return grey wolves to the federal endangered species list. She said Wisconsin must keep its authority to employ tools like wolf hunts, when populations peak like they've done over the past year.

In Stepp's words, "Increased conflicts with domestic livestock and pets benefit neither humans nor wolves." Wolf attacks on livestock and damage to farm crops are why the state adopted a wolf hunt in the first place.