Time to delist the gray wolf

Time to delist the gray wolf
By National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

WASHINGTON (Feb. 8, 2011) – The Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and 32 other livestock organizations from across the nation sent letters to U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) in support of legislation they recently introduced to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). H.R. 509, introduced by Representative Rehberg, has bipartisan support from 15 cosponsors, while Senator Hatch’s (R-Utah) similar legislation, S. 249, has eight cosponsors.

The bipartisan effort calls for a new management regime for the gray wolf that will empower state and local officials to create and implement recovery plans on a state-by-state basis, thereby bringing relief to livestock producers experiencing depredation, said NCBA President and Montana rancher, Bill Donald. Instead of delisting wolves, Donald added, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continuously increases ESA Recovery Plan goals, making delisting impossible.

“Currently, agency officials are unable to promptly make on-site visits to confirm kills. In fact, for every confirmed killing of a calf or a sheep, there are likely many that go unconfirmed. Yet reimbursement programs for confirmed kills are being exhausted,” Donald said. “Simply put, ranchers are losing livestock and taking massive financial hits.”

PLC President and federal lands rancher John Falen said that, unlike many species listed under the ESA, wolves pose a serious threat to wildlife, humans and private property, especially livestock.

“Rather than continuing to allow the distant federal government to dictate how ranchers manage and care for their herds, these bills would return authority to the states where it rightly belongs,” Falen said. “Wolf depredation threatens ranchers’ livelihoods, rural communities and economies relying on a profitable agricultural industry. It is time to end the unwarranted listing of the gray wolf. We appreciate the broad support for Senator Hatch’s and Representative Rehberg’s legislation and urge more members of Congress to support these bills as well.”

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