Groups urge Boxer to block wolf delisting proposals
Nearly 50 environmental groups today urged Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to block proposals to remove Endangered Species Act protections from the gray wolf in Western states.
A provision from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) inserted on page 253 of the Senate's proposed continuing resolution to fund the government through October would give Interior Secretary Ken Salazar two months to reissue an April 2009 rule delisting wolves and would bar groups from challenging the decision in court (E&ENews PM, March 4).
Western governors, hunting groups and stock growers have strongly argued that state-managed hunts are needed to prevent wolves from preying on big-game herds and cattle. But a federal judge last August returned ESA protections to wolves in Idaho and Montana, halting planned hunts in both states.
The environmental groups, which include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, said wolves presently inhabit 5 percent of their historic range and warn that a proposed plan in Wyoming would allow wolves to be shot on site in about 90 percent of the state.
"Decisions about the fate of the nation's imperiled wildlife should be made by scientists, not politicians," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at CBD, in a statement. "It would set a terrible precedent if Congress began removing protections for species one at a time."
Boxer and fellow committee member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) last month blasted a wolf delisting proposal from Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, arguing the bill flouts ESA and fails to address the needs of local communities.
"Legislation introduced today that completely and irreversibly removes the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species sets a dangerous precedent that undermines the Endangered Species Act and threatens the continued existence of the gray wolf across this country," Boxer and Cardin said in a joint statement at the time.
Cardin, in an interview with Greenwire last month, said he would also oppose the measure.
"I'm very much aware of the gray wolf," said Cardin, adding that he would prefer to see a "clean" continuing resolution. "I think this is a solvable problem and relief is needed, but I would hope that we could do it in a deliberative way through our committees and not through a continuing resolution" (Greenwire, Feb. 22).
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday said he supported Tester's efforts to return management to Montana and Idaho, while maintaining protections in Wyoming.
"We support the language crafted and introduced by Senator Tester to delist the wolf in Montana and Idaho and to allow us to continue to have the program in place in Wyoming," Salazar said after a budget hearing before House appropriators.
Salazar added that he was unfamiliar with the specific language in the continuing resolution but that Interior was supportive of coming up with a "legislative solution."
Copyright E&E Publishing, LLC
|Photo © Paul S. Hamilton||HOME / DONATE NOW / SIGN UP FOR E-NETWORK / CONTACT US / PHOTO USE /|