In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. Wisconsin had announced plans to cut what was an 800-member wolf population to just 350 animals, and it authorized trapping, hounding, and trophy hunting to get there. In fact over 80 percent of the wolves this year alone were cruelly trapped.
In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species. The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the "virtually unregulated" killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.
Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin lawmakers all rushed to set up killing programs for wolves. In fact, the Michigan legislature passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. It was only the referendums that we launched that prevented a much larger body count in that state, avoiding the bloodletting that we saw in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A series of stories from M-Live, a consortium of newspapers, laid bare that Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season. The lead sponsor of the hunting program had to apologize on the Senate floor for misleading statements.