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In the News: Reps say wolf management should be turned over to states

Capital Press, 4/30/15 Please Act to Stop Anti-wolf Legislation Today!

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Eric Mortenson

A bill introduced by Oregon, Washington and Utah congressional representatives would turn wolf management over to their states.

U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse of Washington, Greg Walden of Oregon and Chris Stewart of Utah introduced legislation in April that would take gray wolves off the federal endangered species list in their states and turn management of wolves over to state agencies.

In a separate letter to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Newhouse and 36 other representatives, all but one Republicans, asked that gray wolves be delisted nationally, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in 2013. At that time, the wildlife service said gray wolves didn’t warrant listing because they are not a distinct species as defined in the Endangered Species Act. The ruling has not been implemented.

The letter to Jewell said the “uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations” has had a devastating effect on ranching and hunting. The failure of USFWS to follow through on its 2013 proposal has decreased the “social tolerance” for wolves and hurts states’ ability to manage wolves, Newhouse said in the letter.

“We believe that state governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage gray wolf populations and are better able to meet the needs of local communities, ranchers, livestock and wildlife populations,” Newhouse said.

The legislation and letter indicate the continuing political, social and economic strife that accompany government efforts to recover species on the brink. In the West, wolf populations have rebounded and spread rapidly since the mid-1990s, but ranchers believe they’ve unfairly shouldered the burden through attacks on livestock and the cost of non-lethal defensive measures.

Gray wolves are already federally delisted in Idaho and in the eastern thirds of Oregon and Washington. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering whether to remove gray wolves from the state endangered species list; the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a letter backing Newhouse’s proposal.

A spokeswoman for a conservation group called Newhouse’s idea “appalling” and said Congress should not be deciding which animals get endangered species protection.

Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity said Utah has no wolves beyond a few spotted over the years, and the populations in Oregon and Washington are “small and still in the early stages of recovery.”

Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer, said state management of wolves has not turned out well. No state has shown it can stand up to the “livestock industry and the sports-hunting industry who want to see wolf populations once again eradicated or reduced to bare bones numbers,” she said in an email.

Weiss said studies have shown non-lethal control of wolves has greater long-term effect than killing them, and that elk and deer populations remain stable in areas where wolf packs roam. She said livestock losses from wolves are a fraction of losses from other causes.

“Put all of these pieces together and it is clear that states are not prepared or not inclined to be stewards of the public’s wolves at this point in time,” Weiss said.

This article was published by the Capital Press.

Photo courtesy of Robin Silver
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This bill threatens Mexican gray wolf recovery and would put lobos and other gray wolves at the mercy of states repeatedly shown to be hostile to wolves. Please contact your members of Congress today and urge them to oppose anti-wolf legislation. Act here.

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