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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
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.

Contact President Obama, Interior Secretary Salazar, and your local Representatives.      

More Information

Mexican Gray Wolves

Defenders of Wildlife

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.

*Emphasis Mine

Originally posted to Renn on Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 05:46 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I fear Obama will cave (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      he seems to have a corporate view of wildlife and I expect some dem senators to flip on this one.

      The wolf is lucky though, it is an enigmatic creature and the best environmental policy is a caring public. But it's the opening in the ESA that paves the way for other, less warm and fuzzy endangered species to be let go without notice,  that I fear most.

      The gray wolf is an inspiring story about not giving up. I read that part of their DNA is attributable to the coyote genome, so kind of a hybrid.

      •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KayCeSF, Mathazar

        Unfortunately a pragmatic approach rarely benefits wildlife or the environment. I'm afraid this issue will be trumped by economic ones, which is why doing all we can now for the voiceless is important.

        But then again how about those economic benefits of wolves..

        Gateway communities near Yellowstone National Park have reported an economic boon from the return of the wolf. In fact, more than 150,000 people visit Yellowstone each year specifically because of wolves, bringing $35 million in annual tourist revenue to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The economic impact of this figure effectively doubles once money filters through local communities.

  •  anti-environmental posture of GOP (6+ / 0-)
    I have seen people who are ignorant and dumb before.  Our country is full of them. But to see such a collection of imbecils (the GOP) organized into a political party in our government is enough to make a person sick.  I don't know how the Democrats can work in the same building with these people.  They are just a bunch of miscreants
    that too many in our uneducated population accept as legitimate lawmakers and politicians.  In this day and age of so many environmental problems, when the earth is truly showing many of the serious effects of environmental degradation and damage by humans, people like this (GOP) who advocate poor environmental policies should be considered as  criminals and threats to our national security.
    •  Unfortunately some Dems involved too (0+ / 0-)

      Baucus and Tester have introduced similar legislation, although not as severe. Of course most of the Dem supporters come from these western states where ranching and hunting groups support their re-election.

  •  Speaking of wolves (4+ / 0-)

    Study shows canid is 'wolf in jackal's clothing'

    DNA analysis has shown that the Egyptian jackal, previously believed to be a subspecies of the golden jackal, is a relative of the grey wolf.  

    Genetic information shows that the species, Canis aureus lupaster, is more closely related to Indian and Himalayan wolves than golden jackals.

    Writing in Plos One, researchers said the renamed "African wolf" was the only grey wolf species found in Africa.

  •  This was always a possibility. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, ban nock

    The Endangered Species Act is a law created by Congress, and Congress can modify that law as it sees fit, provided only that the sitting President signs the bill.

    This particular proposal is what it is, on its own merits, but it sets no precedent. Congress can change the scope of the laws... that's kind of what it's for.

    The sky is not falling... it was never even the sky.


    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

    by Leftie Gunner on Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 06:13:50 PM PST

    •  It does set a precedent for the ESA (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, moose67

      Today it's wolves, tomorrow it's less charismatic animals that have less public support. Until now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife has made all the recommendations for listing and de-listing based on the best available science. These bills undermine the ability of Wildlife Biologists to do their jobs. I understand your point, but that doesn't lessen the severity of what they are trying to do.

    •  but it sets no precedent? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Once something happens it becomes part of the playing field.  If congress does not get hurt by an electoral backlash for this decision, should it pass, they will not fear making another similar decision.

      Sure, congress can always change it back, after the filibusters and obstructions, perhaps when hell freezes over, after they get rid of that pesky American natural heritage.

      Bush v Gore emboldened the SCOTUS, then we got Citizens United. When the right smells blood, they know they can move the ball further their way as the dems try to play centrists.

  •  As a wildlife biologist, knowing all the studies, (8+ / 0-)

    the time, energy and money put into restoring wolves as a natural predator to cull the large herds of deer, antelope, and smaller rodent populations - this just breaks my heart.  The ranchers and farmers who get free grazing rights and the trophy hunters have lobbied the GOPers most effectively to get these bills before Congress, when scientists should be the decison makers on these issues based on factual data not politics.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." A. Einstein

    by moose67 on Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 06:37:29 PM PST

    •  The ESA was passed at a time (0+ / 0-)

      when even the Republicans respected science and did not spit on knowledge and discovery the way they do now.

      It is time to exercise what power we have.  We can win this.

      To hear one must listen; to listen one must be silent

      by Guinho on Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 06:59:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the report Renn (0+ / 0-)

    this the first step

    for them in their privatization agenda,

    most likely.

    I dream of things that never were  -- and ask WHY NOT?
    -- Robert F. Kennedy

    by jamess on Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 06:38:20 PM PST

  •  MN= too many wolves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    This is going to have to become a state by state issue. Several years ago when Mn's DNR chief field biologist retired he stated that MN had double the number of wolves than they intended to have. He was instrumental over his 40 year career in building our population up, but now felt that it needed to be brought down.
    I know of several dogs that have been killed by wolves in the past few years. We have a small pack starting up on the edge of our greater Minneapolis metro area. There have been numerous accounts of these wolves chasing pets right up to the owners back doors. Our DNR confirms that this is a wolf pack. Not coyotes. Canines are known for their ability to quickly adapt to new conditions/lifestyles. They are quickly adapting to living around higher population centers. Like it or not, we will need to find a solution soon to establish a safer boundary between wolves and humans and their domestic stock.

    •  America = too many dogs n cats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Americans are free to not let their dogs n cats run loose, they cause enormous damage to wildlife and the PETAs of the world fight control measures and regulations, and livestock programs own the west on public lands and get taxpayer subsidies.

      It will take a while before I worry about too many wolves as an animal control priority. But I favor the use of animal control for everything, including endangered species if necessary.

      •  I don't disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        there are too many dogs and cats in some places/situations. There are also too many children in some places/situations. I just don't think it is going to go over well to let the wolves thin out the cats, dogs, and preschoolers. Unfortunately conservative voices will probably get to decide how to thin the wolf pack. If the wolf pack is going to be thinned, I would prefer it be progressive voices that shape policy. That is a steep hill to climb though.

        You suggest that it will be a while til you worry about too many wolves as an animal control priority, but some others are already worrying, and they are shaping policy. If you aren't going to worry, don't feel bad when the policies don't reflect your input.

        •  conservatives/rednecks vs wolves (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is like repubs vs Obama.

          No matter what he does, it is never good enough. And no matter how far the wolves are from humans, they have to be hunted down to the last one.

          If the wolf pack is going to be thinned, I would prefer it be progressive voices that shape policy.

          I am with you 100% on this one and admit that right rhetoric has to be managed.

          My concerns are broadly-ecological and triage-based, so at this time, with such great programs and support, the wolf is lower on my totem pole. But if it were not at the top's of others, we wouldn't have any, so Kudos to all the wolf-lovers, it's part of my war, but not my first battle.

    •  MN an outlier (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Minnesota never lost their wolves, and have had a long history of being responsible towards Wolf management. Still the fear of Wolves is irrational. There hasn't been a documented case of a wolf attack on a human in the lower 48 in over 100 years, and wolves account for less than 1% of livestock loss in the US. In fact domestic dogs kill more livestock. Still while wolves may be encroaching in MN, these western states are big on space, especially when you consider CO, WA, OR, and UT where these wolves are starting to return. A solution should be found on how to coexist, but making them exempt from the ESA is not a solution.  

  •  Judge is right on with this (0+ / 0-)

    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.

    I'm gonna remember this and use it

    I have commented as an environmental consultant to the FWS to try to get them to list FE populations of plants in this manner, but so far, they only do this for animals.  Having an all or nothing process, let's opposition sell half-truths on populations or subspecies that are not threatened - a Trojan horse to get at everything politically.  I have seen FWS come close to faking studies in order to list species in a black & white manner, while ignoring the data of researchers and wildlife biologists.

    Most of the biologists I know who worked at FWS have left, it is a very bureaucratic, political and thankless job.

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