The Interior Department said Monday it would remove about 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin from the endangered and threatened species list in about a month. State and tribal governments will be responsible for keeping their numbers at healthy levels.

The department hopes to take the same action for about 1,200 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming within a year....

Government-approved bounty hunting nearly wiped out the wolf in the lower 48 states by the 1950s. Changing attitudes led to their protection in 1974 under the newly enacted Endangered Species Act.

The president of Defenders of Wildlife called it "a classic Endangered Species Act success story," but it may be more accurate to call part of the population boom a victory for private conservation. Grey wolves languished on the endangered list for years, and had little or no presence in Yellowstone National Park (including the area to be de-listed soon) until market-oriented environmentalists came up with a plan to compensate ranchers for their losses along Yellowstone's border. Once ranchers weren't forced to pay for the restoration of the wolf population out of their own pockets, the wolf population bounced back dramatically. Read all about it at PERC's website.

Check out Brian on wolves in 1995, and Ron on the Endangered Species Act in "Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up."