Bills by Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg(R) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) Utah, are being introduced to make Gray Wolves exempt from the ESA. Never before has a species been legislatively removed from the ESA. If passed these bills will set a terrible precedent, that politics overrules science when making sound wildlife management decisions. The ground work will be laid that could threaten all of America's wildlife. Follow below to stand up and take action.
Some of you may recall that wolves were de-listed briefly in 2009 in Montana, Idaho, the western Great Lakes area, and parts of Washington, Oregon, and Utah. In Wyoming they remained protected. It was the fact that the Wyoming wolves were not removed from the endangered species list, that the de-listing was overturned in court.
Molloy ruled that the FWS erred when it allowed Montana and Idaho independent management authority, but kept Wyoming's wolves under federal control. He ignored other questions about state regulations, population size, connectivity and genetic exchange.
"Even if the (FWS) solution is pragmatic, or even practical, it is at heart a political solution that does not comply with the (Endangered Species Act)," Molloy wrote in his 50-page opinion. "The Northern Rocky Mountain (wolf population) must be listed, or de-listed, as a distinct population and protected accordingly.
Having lost the legal battle, the Anti-Wolf crowd has turned to political measures. Montana Rep. Rehberg has introduced two bills. The first would de-list Gray Wolves across the country, including the remaining 50 Mexican Gray Wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The second bill would only remove protection for the Gray Wolves in Idaho and Montana, leaving management up to the states.
Sen. Hatch's bill would exempt wolves from the ESA
(S.249) described as "[a] bill to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide that Act shall not apply to any gray wolf (Canis lupus)."
The ESA does allow for species to be de-listed, but this is done under the recommendation of U.S. Fish and Wildlife using the best available science. Never before has a species been removed, or made exempt, from the ESA by legislative means. If one of these bills would be allowed to become law it would set a horrible precedent for the future of the ESA and America's wildlife.
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) statement on Hatch's legislation
"The Endangered Species Act is one of the nation’s landmark environmental laws and has protected iconic species like the bald eagle. The Act, which unanimously passed the Senate and was signed into law by President Nixon, relies on the best available science to make decisions about how to protect the nation’s threatened and endangered species.
Legislation introduced today that completely and irreversibly removes the Gray Wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species sets a dangerous precedent that undermines the Endangered Species Act and threatens the continued existence of the Gray Wolf across this country.
We objected to moving similar legislation on the floor of the Senate in December of last year, and we remain just as opposed today. But we also look forward to working with our colleagues on an approach that follows the science, addresses the concerns of local communities, and upholds the integrity of the Endangered Species Act."
The main objection to federal de-listing of wolves is that state management plans (a requirement for de-listing) for the Gray wolf in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming are not adequate enough to sustain a healthy population through connectivity and genetic diversity. In fact this is why Wyoming's wolves were left on the list in 2009, because their state plan was unacceptable. If wolves were to be removed now under any of these bills the estimated population of 1600 wolves in the Northern Rockies would be allowed to drop zero. Wolves in the Great Lakes region could face similar threats.
Which brings us to the Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi).
The Lobo is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, and currently there are only 50 in the wild along the border of Arizona and New Mexico, and a little over 300 in captive breeding facilities. The Lobo came as close as you can get to extinction when the remaining 5 wolves were trapped in Mexico in the late 70's. These wolves will face extinction in the wild again if these bills are passed, because none of them make an exception for the Mexican Gray Wolf to remain on the Endangered Species List.
Folks, this is dangerous. This is not de-listing of a recovered species, this is exemption from one of our countries greatest environmental accomplishments, the ESA of 1973. Nothing will stand in the way of groups fighting to remove other species that are protected, but that they find are an inconvenience.
Wolves were exterminated from all of the lower 48 (except Minnesota) by the 1950's, and with the passage one of these extreme bills pushed by ranchers and large hunting groups we could again face the possibility of wolves being exterminated from the landscape. Obama has stated frequently that he wants to return science to the White House, we need to hold him to that promise.
A great film on the importance of predators in the ecosystem Lords Of Nature
From the father of ecology Aldo Leopold
[....] We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.
In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.* * *
Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.