DULUTH, Minn. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that it will not consider listing grey wolves as "threatened'' under the Endangered Species Act.
The suggestion had come from wolf protection groups who say the status would be a compromise between the current, fully endangered status and proposals in Congress to delist wolves entirely.
Wolves were delisted in 2012 but a late 2014 court order has restored federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes area and in most western states.
The agency, however, determined the request was a "non-substantial petition."
"We are disappointed in the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to consider this middle-ground approach to wolf management,'' said Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer of the Humane Society of the United States. "A threatened listing is a reasonable compromise to this contentious issue, and it retains some federal protection for wolves, while providing more flexibility to the states in dealing with the occasional problem wolf."
Bills have been introduced in Congress this year that would override the court opinion and remove all federal protections for wolves. They so far have not passed.
Until other action occurs, wolves remain federally protected as endangered in most areas and threatened in Minnesota. The distinction allows wolves in Minnesota to be trapped by federal wildlife experts near where livestock have been killed.