BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Gray wolves in Montana and Idaho would be taken off the endangered list under the budget bill pending before Congress, two Western lawmakers said.
Inclusion of the language to lift protections for wolves was confirmed by the offices of Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson on Saturday.
“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 our wildlife, our livestock, and for the jobs that rely on them,” Tester said in a statement.
Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts said the bill also would prevent courts from reversing any Congressional action. “¦
Environmental groups fought prior efforts to remove more than 1,600 wolves in the Northern Rockies from the endangered list. In a bid to pre-empt Congressional action, 10 groups recently signed an agreement with the Obama administration that would lift protections but provide safeguards against overhunting.
Lawmakers including Tester and Simpson said they didn’t want to risk that agreement being rejected in court.
One of the groups that worked on the agreement was the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We went a long, long way down a difficult road to do that,” said the center’s Kieran Suckling, who considered Tester’s action a betrayal of that process. “For Tester to push legislation on top of that is extremely disappointing and I think it’s something that Jon Tester is going to regret for the rest of his short career.”
A final vote on the budget bill is expected next week. “¦
Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.
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PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!
Never before has Congress stripped Endangered Species Act protections from a single species – this endangers wolves and sets a devastating precedent to let any animal go extinct based on political whims rather than the sound science the ESA requires.
Contact your Senators today. You can find your Senators’ contact info here,or call the Capital Switchboard (202-224-3121, toll-free: 1-866-220-0044) and ask for your Senators’ office. You can then speak to a staff member or leave a message on voice mail.
Please urge your Senators to oppose budget amendments and any legislation that will remove protections for wolves and weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA). (Note: if you are outside the U.S., you can still help by contacting President Obama-see below.)
You can also https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/and remind him of his own position that policy decisions should not be made through budget bills. Ask him to veto any budget bill containing any policy riders, including those that endanger wolves and the ESA.
Right now, contacting Senators and the President are the most urgent actions. If you want to do more, you can also help by submitting a letter to the editor, calling on your Senators and the President to oppose anti-wolf riders, to the papers that printed versions of this article:
The Salt Lake Tribune : You can email your letter to email@example.com. No attachments, please.
The Bellingham Journal: Email a brief letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greenfield Reporter: Submit a less than 600 word letter here.
Havre Daily News: Submit your letter here.
Flathead Beacon: Email your letter (300 words or less) to email@example.com
Surveys show that the letters page is one of the most closely read parts of the paper. It’s also the page policy-makers look to as a barometer of public opinion. If you mention your Senators in your letter, the agency or Senator’s staff will most likely see that letter during a regular scan of the media.
Thank you for all you do for wolves.
Photo courtesy of Robin Silver