Buried deep within the Republican Budget Bill that recently passed the House is a two line provision suggested by Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) that would remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act. The language Rep. Simpson, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Interior Department, introduced directs Interior Secretary Salazar to reinstate a 2009 provision that removed wolves from the endangered list in most of the Northern Rockies, specifically Montana, Idaho, parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah.
While wolves would still enjoy their protected status in Wyoming, the desert southwest and the upper Great Lakes, removing them from the Endangered Species Act in most of the Northern Rockies will put the wolf population, once again, in grave danger from hunters. This is likely why Wyoming is specifically not mentioned in Simpson’s language because in Wyoming an animal that has been designated a predator can be shot on sight.
Last century the wolf population was nearly decimated by hunting and with the intercession of environmental groups, who reintroduced wolves into Yellowstone National Park and Idaho, wolves have made a great start in recovering their population. Their numbers are now estimated to be about 1700 and they inhabit territory in 5 states.
Now that there are the 115 packs spread across 5 states ranchers are angry because sometimes wolves take one of their livestock for their lunch or dinner and hunters are angry because wolves take down big game to survive. The ranchers and hunters were so irritated they have tried, most recently twice, to remove the wolf from the Endangered Species List but those attempts were reversed by a federal Judge in Montana.
The rancher and hunting lobbies are large and powerful and have been stomping their feet and kicking up a dust storm of wolf hatred so much so that Rep. Simpson saw fit to bury language in the budget bill. In a rather diabolical maneuver to circumvent court interference, Simpson’s language also provides that the Department of the Interior would be shielded from legal intervention and that Congress would have the final say in whether or not wolves would be removed (or put back on) the List.
At the end of the day though, this is not about trimming the budget, this is about mollifying two powerful bodies of voters who are crying because they think they don’t have enough big game to pleasure hunt and because they’ve lost a few head of livestock to an animal they decimated into almost extinction once before.
If you do not agree with the removal of the wolves as an endangered species then please call your Senator to have the Simpson language stripped from the budget bill. Allowing it to go forward sets our environmental protections back into the last century. The Republicans are trying to turn back the century clock on women’s rights; don’t let them jump into their pretend DeLorean and turn back the clock on any human right or environmental concern — it only spells disaster and decimation of life.