Northern Rockies Wolves To Be Removed From ESA Coverage

Run a Google News search for “Wolves Congress” this morning and you’ll come up with 767 results.

Oh, yeah, wolves in the Northern Rockies and now in the halls of Washington DC are a hot topic.

The gist of many of today’s headlines is that federal protections for Canis lupus were removed through a rider passed in last weekend’s budget battle and which is expected to be approved later this week.

The language prevents judicial review.

Now, management will be handed over to the states of Montana and Idaho, which in all likelihood will hold hunts this year.

It also delists wolves in eastern sections of Washington and Oregon, though those populations remain under state protections — at least that’s how some news accounts have it.

Others state more nebulously that wolves have been delisted in both states, not recognizing that the Northern Rockies population is basically east of Highways 97/17/395.

“We don’t know yet, we honest to god don’t know yet” what it means for Washington, says WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane.

Wolf advocates, however, are crushed. There’s also worry about the precedent of removing ESA-listed species through budgets and lawmakers instead of scientific review.

State game management plans, approved by federal scientists, will now be put to the test.

Wrote the LA Times:

Yet (Montana Democratic Senator Jon) Tester said the proposed legislation will provide a way forward where none previously existed.

“This wolf fix isn’t about one party’s agenda,” the congressman said in a statement. “It’s about what’s right for Montana and the West, which is why I’ve been working so hard to get this solution passed, and why it has support from all sides.”

Perhaps some of the thunderhead that’s been gathered over the region will begin to dissipate.

“I think hunting is going to reduce the hysteria going on,” author and retired federal biologist Carter Niemeyer told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “More and more people somewhat believe the fear mongering (about wolves) and feel like they have no control over it. There is a combination of frustration and anger and fear that even sensible sportsmen have gotten drawn in.”

Or perhaps the thunderhead has just moved west into Washington and Oregon.

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