Wolves to be delisted, management returned to states under agreement expected to be signed into law
Congressman Greg Walden
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Language that provides for the delisting of the gray wolf population in the West, including eastern Oregon, is included in H.R. 1473, the FY2011 Continuing Resolution. The legislation would return management of wolf populations in eastern Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Utah to the states. The bill will be considered by both the House and Senate later this week and then will be signed into law by President Obama.
“By removing wolves from the federal ESA, we are putting them back in the control of local management, where they belong,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said. “Our ranchers and local communities need to have the ability to protect their property and livelihood. Overarching federal protection does not provide the needed flexibility to provide holistic management for communities, wildlife and wolves.”
Wolf populations in the West have vastly exceeded recovery goals put into place in the 1990s. In March 2009, the Obama administration determined that the species were fully recovered and should be removed from the endangered species list.
However, a district court ruling in Montana relisted the entire population in August 2010, and another recent decision rejected a proposed settlement between environmental groups and the federal government to restore state management in Idaho and Montana.
Despite the support from President Obama to de-list the wolves, these court decisions made it clear that without congressional action, wolves would remain on the federally protected list indefinitely.
The language in the agreement reinstates the original determination by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves in states with approved management plans in place. It returns management of wolf populations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Utah to the states. The language also allows negotiations between the State of Wyoming and the Department of Interior to continue so that the entire population can be delisted.
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