Rocky Mountain Wolf Update
Series of Bills Coming to Keep Wolves Off Endangered Species List
Numerous bills are being introduced in Washington D.C. attempting to exempt the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves from Endangered Species Act protection and return management of the species to the states.
On September 28, both of Montana’s U.S. Senators, Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D), introduced legislation that would remove wolves located in Montana and Idaho from the ESA List and would place control over the management of those wolf populations back to Montana and Idaho.
Essentially, the legislation would return management in the region back to where it had been prior to an August 5 ruling by Judge Donald W. Molloy of the Federal District Court for Montana. That decision placed all of the wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, a region including all of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, back on the ESA List.
Earlier this month, the two Idaho Senators, Mike Crapo (R) and Jim Risch (R), introduced a similar bill while Montana’s U.S. Representative, Denny Rehberg (R) has released a draft of comparable legislation.
Meanwhile, both Idaho and Montana along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appealed the Molloy decision.
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) removed protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana because the population in the region has biologically recovered. The agency did not remove federal protection for wolves in Wyoming due to what it considered inadequate state plans to protect its population.
The “carve out” of Wyoming became the focal point of a lawsuit filed by a group of 13 plaintiffs, including several prominent anti-hunting organizations, against the FWS. They argued that under the Endangered Species Act either all wolves in a region can be removed from the Endangered Species List or none can be. Judge Molloy sided with the anti-hunting organizations.