President-elect Biden has nominated Rep. Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior. Credit: AFGE
The Biden administration will officially take office on Jan. 20, but it has already announced who it will nominate for key positions. In addition, its transition teams have been meeting with career agency employees to better understand agency operations and challenges.
During an event on Dec. 19, the incoming administration announced a slate of nominees for environment, energy and climate jobs.
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) will be nominated by president-elect Biden for Secretary of the Interior. If confirmed by the Senate, Halaand would be the first Native American to be a member of the Cabinet. She would be the 54thInterior Secretary and only the third female to serve in that position. Haaland currently serves as the vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
“As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior Department has a role to address these challenges,” said Rep. Halland during a Dec. 19 event, Rep. She also said that “we will ensure that the decisions at Interior will once again be driven by science.”
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the official wolf season will begin Nov. 6, 2021. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will delist gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species on Jan. 4, 2021, returning management authority to the lower 48 states and tribes. Under Wisconsin law, when the wolf is delisted, the state’s annual hunting and trapping seasons shall resume.
Voters in Colorado have approved Proposition 114, forcing the state government to reintroduce the gray wolf. It’s the first time in U.S. history that a ballot measure win has obliged a state government to bring back a species that disappeared due to human actions.
With more than 90% of the vote counted, opponents of Proposition 114 have admitted defeat, reports the Denver Post. With the referendum won, state wildlife officials in Colorado will be required to develop an evidence-based recovery plan for wolves, which haven’t called the state home for decades. The proposition stipulates that grey wolves be restored to the mountainous portions of the state west of the continental divide by the end of 2023, with input from the public.
The passing of this ballot measure marks an important milestone, as it’s the first time that voters in a U.S. state have forced a state wildlife agency to restore a species through a referendum. That’s not a small thing, and it reflects a growing push to restore the balance of nature.
But it was close. Proposition 114 squeaked by with the support of 50.4% of those who voted for so-called “paws on the ground.” Denver and Boulder currently account for the 9% of votes that still need to be counted, but those regions are expected to favor the bill.
The gray wolf has recovered in the lower 48 states and no longer needs protections of the federal Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared Thursday.Therefore, the agency will delist the wolf and return management authority to the states.
“The gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery,” said David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior. “Today’s announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law.” The decision, scheduled to take effect in early January, clears the way for the use of lethal control measures, including controversial wolf hunting and trapping seasons.
It’s the latest move in a decades-long legal and cultural seesaw over best management practices for the native large carnivore that plays a keystone role in ecosystems and is revered in American Indian traditions but also causes conflicts with farmers and kills livestock.
A trail camera captures an image of a wolf in Wisconsin. Credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin’s gray wolf population continues to climb. A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources survey found the state’s wolf population grew 15% over the previous year. The overwinter wolf count rose from an estimated 914 to 978 wolves in the 2018-2019 count to an estimated 1,034 to 1,057 wolves in the 2019-2020 count. The number of packs rose from 243 to 256. The population has steadily climbed from a low of 14 wolves (Canis lupus) in 1985. Along with their growing numbers have come growing complaints. During the latest survey period, the agency tallied 90 wolf complaints, up from fewer than 70 the previous year.