Last week, Washington State Representative Dan Newhouse introduced the “Pacific Northwest Gray Wolf Management Act” (H.R. 1985), which would remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) within Washington, Oregon, and Utah. H.R. 1985 is the third bill introduced in the 114th Congress (2015-2016) proposing to delist the gray wolf within specified states. H.R. 843 and H.R. 884, introduced in February, would effectively delist gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and in the Western Great Lakes region and Wyoming, respectively. While H.R. 884 does not define the span of the “Western Great Lakes region,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has defined the region to include Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Red Lake Reservation.
In 1987, the Service classified the gray wolf as endangered throughout the contiguous United States except in Minnesota, where the Service classified the gray wolf as threatened. Whereas prior agency efforts to delist the gray wolf in the Great Lakes Region have failed, legislation removing ESA protection for gray wolves has been upheld in federal court.