The United States Congress has removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in two states, according the The New York Times. The action sets a new precedent that could introduce political influence as a way of amending the list. Typically, changes to the list are done by a federal, non-political, science-based agency; this congressional delisting came in the form of a rider on the Congressional budget measure backed by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
Michael T. Leahy, Rocky Mountain regional director of the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife, is quoted as saying, "Now, anytime anybody has an issue with an endangered species, they are going to run to Congress and try to get the same treatment the anti-wolf people have gotten."
With the wolves no longer under federal protection, management falls to state wildlife agencies, in this case Idaho and Montana.
Senator Tester released a statement Saturday saying, "This wolf fix isn’t about one party’s agenda. It's about what’s right for Montana and the West—which is why I’ve been working so hard to get this solution passed, and why it has support from all sides. It’s high time for a predictable, practical law that finally delists Montana’s wolves and returns their management to our state—for the sake of Montana jobs, our wildlife, our livestock, and for the sake of wolves themselves."
Efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to delist wolves in 2008 and 2009 were unsuccessful after U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the court lacked the authority and could not "exercise its discretion to allow what Congress forbids.”
For another look at wolves in the northern Rockies, see Josh Dean's piece in our November 2010 issue.
Photo by Gary Kramer/USFWS on Flickr