WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday that would delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and allow wolf management plans based on federal and state wildlife expertise to move forward without legal ambiguity.
“Gray wolf listing decisions should come from state wildlife experts, not partisan federal judges. As the Interior Department moves forward with its rule to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, the process will inevitably be tied up in the courts by activists who want Wisconsin’s wolves to remain protected so their numbers and territory can continue to expand. Congress should pass legislation to allow certain states and tribes to move forward with wolf population management plans without legal ambiguity, and I’m pleased my bill has bipartisan support to do just that,” Johnson said.
“I have supported a bipartisan effort to delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin since 2011 because of the scientific conclusion that the population has recovered in the Great Lakes region and that is why we should return management to the State of Wisconsin. This bipartisan legislation is the best solution because it is driven by science and is focused on delisting in the Great Lakes region, including Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has started a long process that requires review of the wolf population across many states beyond the Great Lakes region, which will raise new questions and likely draw legal challenges making it all the more important that we pass this bipartisan legislation,” said Baldwin.
“Wyoming has clearly demonstrated that a state can manage the gray wolf population successfully,” said Barrasso. “States have the expertise and know how to best manage wildlife populations."
“States have the best understanding for how to manage wolves in their areas,” Enzi said. “This bill would allow that to happen without continued interference from the courts. Wyoming has been dealing with this issue for decades. I trust local wildlife managers to manage wildlife better than those in Washington thousands of miles away.”
Text of the bill can be found here.
In late 2014, a judge in Washington, D.C. overruled a management plan for the gray wolf agreed to by the Department of the Interior and several states, returning the gray wolf to the endangered species list. Sen. Johnson has worked to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the western Great Lakes region since 2015 when he introduced legislation with former Rep. Reid Ribble (WI-8) to address the issue.
A brief explanation of the issue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can be found here.