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Bill to block challenges to wolf delisting advances

Liz Cheney Liz Cheney

Shortly after this fall’s gray wolf season opened in Wyoming, a bill that would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming — and prohibit judicial review of the decision — jumped its first hurdle in the U.S. House.

The Gray Wolf State Management Act (H.R. 424), a bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., passed the House Natural Resources Committee on Oct. 4.

“For far too long our court system has been abused by radical environmental groups filing frivolous lawsuits to prevent Wyoming from managing our gray wolf population,” Cheney said in a press release. In an email, Cheney said she was pleased that the bill made it through the committee.

In testimony in front of the full House Committee on Natural Resources on Oct. 4, Peterson said that, “Gray wolves should be managed by state plans which maintained more than adequate wolf population numbers.”

Gray wolves, reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995, were originally delisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012. That decision was overturned and protections reinstated in 2014 by a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C. However, this past April, an appellate court reversed that ruling, with Wyoming again winning the right to manage the population outside of Yellowstone National Park.

The state’s hunting season began Oct. 1.

As of Monday morning, 21 of the 44 gray wolves in the hunt management quota had been harvested. Areas 1, 4, 10 and 11 were closed while eight areas remained open for Wyoming’s scheduled three-month hunt.

The Gray Wolf State Management Act has the backing of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

“The bill would give us predictability and protection against litigation,” said David Willms, a policy adviser for Mead.

“I look forward to the day the state can work without the cloud of potential litigation hanging over our heads,” he said.

There currently are no lawsuits pending and Willms thinks they’re unlikely during the 2017 wolf hunt. The legislation, if passed, would protect the states from further litigation, but not from listing wolves as an endangered species, Willms said.

Wisconsin Republican congressman Sean Duffy, a co-sponsor of the bill, has had enough of the judicial system.

“Judicial activism has caused a multitude of problems in our nation, and a Washington judge claiming to know what’s best for Wisconsin’s ecosystem is another egregious example. In Wisconsin, we cherish our wildlife and work diligently to conserve our natural resources, but the Endangered Species Act has allowed courts to misuse judicial oversight to stop science-based wildlife management from moving forward,” Duffy said in a news release earlier this year.

However, Derek Goldman, field representative for the Endangered Species Coalition, sees this bill — as well as more than 100 other pieces of legislation and riders by the 115th Congress — as an attempted end-run around the ESA.

“This is one of many efforts in Congress to undermine the Endangered Species Act,” Goldman said.

Goldman points to successes due to the ESA, including the reintroduction of black-footed ferrets in Wyoming.

The Gray Wolf State Management Act will most likely move to the House floor as part of a legislative package to promote sportsmen’s activities on federal lands, Cheney said. Her goal is to provide Wyoming farmers and ranchers with the ability to protect their own livestock and livelihood, she said.

The bipartisan bill, including Democrats from Wisconsin and Minnesota, is popular with members of Congress from all four states. It’s co-sponsored by Richard Nolan, D-Minn., Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., Ron Kind, D-Wis., John Moolenaar, R-Mich., Tim Walberg, R-Mich., Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., and Jack Bergman, R-Mich.

In June, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., co-sponsored a similar bill with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in the Senate called the HELP for Wildlife Act. HELP is an acronym for Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation.

The bill — which includes measures to support fishing and target shooting — includes two riders that would ensure that gray wolves will not receive protections under the ESA in Wyoming or the Great Lakes region. One section would override the 2014 district court decision and removes existing Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Another section would codify April’s recent D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that stripped ESA protections for wolves in Wyoming. The plaintiffs in the Wyoming case did not appeal the court’s decision.

8 comments

  • posted by GABRIELA VARGAS

    November 22, 2017 4:38 pm

    HUNT ANIMALS IS THE SOURCE OF IMMENSE SUFFERING AND UNBEARABLE TORTURE TO ANIMALS. THE WORLD COMMUNITY IS SHOCKED TO FIND OUT ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING, AND ARE DEMANDING THAT THE GOVERNMENT STEP IN, TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY AND DECISIVE ACTION AGAINST THESE ATROCITIES. WE NEED TO CREATE A POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR COUNTRIES AND IN DOING SO, SETTING A POWERFUL EXAMPLE FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD. AS AN ANIMAL LOVER, AND PART OF A HIGH-PROFILE ANIMAL RIGHT GROUP, WHICH HAS SUPPORTERS ACROSS THE GLOBE, I WISH TO REGISTER MY BEEP CONCERN ABOUT THIS CRUELTY AND ABUSE. I SINCERELY ASK THAT THE GOVERNMENT ENFORCING ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS. I THINK IT IS TIME TO EVOLVE AND BE BETTER HUMAN BEINGS.

  • posted by Christina Sytsma

    November 15, 2017 2:09 pm

    Its as simple as this...,If you don't help who in your position will?

  • posted by Dick Balsak

    October 31, 2017 6:21 pm

    The wolves are no good for Wyoming. It's 2017. The ecosystem evolves you know.

  • posted by Salty Dawg

    October 24, 2017 1:54 pm

    Wolves should have been left in Canada..where they belong..if you people who love wolves would go outdoors..instead of sitting at your desk...around the Park...you would see where there are more Griz and Mountain Lions outside the Park than before...why? Because wolves are competing for prey and Griz and Mountain Lions have to travel farther to eat. Another thing...ask most any rancher who runs cows in the back country and they will tell you about the calves they have seen killed and eaten by wolves...you all like your paychecks...ranchers like theirs too...in the form of cattle at the auction house.Wolf lovers should go back to california or wherever they came from and see a wolf in the zoo...they have no place in the Rockies anymore.

  • posted by Becky Borah-Nelson

    October 21, 2017 10:40 am

    Wolves play an essential role in the ecosystem. They have close family/communication/network structures that are torn apart when part or most of their pack is killed. Once hunting is allowed, wolf numbers will be decimated. They will no longer be able to play their essential role in the environment. Some areas of the US and other countries have already experienced this and found the environment benefits of 'reintroduction of wolves'. The best method is never to kill the wolves. They control balance in the environment. Allow them to play their role and stop interfering. Ranchers have plenty of other land options. Save the wolves for this and future generations.

  • posted by skipt

    October 19, 2017 9:16 pm

    I would like to find out how informed on a scientific basis the politicians who create this type of legislation really are. Do they know of the balance in nature where wolves play an important part?

  • posted by Dewey V

    October 19, 2017 7:38 pm

    This dubious bill makes the hollow Republican claim of " Judicial Activism " seem trite. Why ? bnecause ANY bill on ANY topic that puts up a firewal to judicial review is an egregious violation of Constitutional checks and balances; a vast overreach of legislation sandboxing the judiciary.
    Whatever the likes of Mrs. Elizabeth " Virginian" Perry thought the problem with litigating wolf delisting was, her solution is far far worse. There's a reason the enviros litigate endangered species: they have no recourse left. And guess what ? they win most of the regrettable but inevitable lawsuits. So Lizzie and her GOP ilk resort to cheating.... trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.

  • posted by Marcia Mueller

    October 19, 2017 7:02 pm

    Leave the wolves alone.

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