DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Congressional budget cuts could jeopardize a federal program that controls wolves that attack or threaten farm animals or pets in Minnesota.
The budget agreement reached Friday effectively eliminates money for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program.
The director for the program in Minnesota, Gary Nohrenberg, sent an email to state Department of Natural Resources and state Department of Agriculture officials saying that the program’s operations are “in effect on a day-by-day basis.”
But the program has been ordered by its regional director to keep investigating wolf complaints and killing problem wolves while alternative sources of money are sought, said John Hart, district supervisor in Grand Rapids, Minn., for USDA’s Wildlife Services.
“We’ve been struggling to keep our heads above water, and this is kind of the final straw,” Hart said. “Beginning Oct. 1, with the new federal fiscal year, there will be no USDA money for wolf control.”
The Wildlife Services Program investigates wolf complaints and lethally traps or shoots wolves that have attacked livestock or pets. In 2010, Hart’s office investigated 272 wolf complaints and trapped or shot 192 wolves.
State DNR officials told the Duluth News Tribune they’ll seek the help of the Minnesota congressional delegation in finding money to continue wolf-depredation control.
“That’s of great concern to us,” DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said. “We take this very seriously. We believe it’s high time for the federal government to delist the wolf in Minnesota. We need to get the wolf under state control, so we can better manage the population.”
Wolves in Minnesota are classified as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. State officials have no authority to manage wolves, although delisting of the wolf in Minnesota is tentatively expected to occur by the end of this year.
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