WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday that would delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The bill restores the wolf to the status determined to be appropriate by Department of Interior wildlife experts.
The bill would allow wolf management plans that are based on federal and state wildlife expertise to move forward without any legal ambiguity.
“After over 30 years of needed protection and professional pack population management, the wolf has made its comeback,” Senator Johnson said. “The Department of the Interior decided to delist the gray wolf as an endangered species in both the western Great Lakes and Wyoming over four years ago, determining the gray wolf populations were fully recovered and healthy. Unfortunately, a federal judge overruled wildlife experts in the field. This bill's language does not modify the Endangered Species Act nor does it prevent Fish and Wildlife Service experts from ever returning the wolf to the endangered list if they determine the population is in need of federal protection. But I strongly agree with the feedback I’ve heard from Wisconsin stakeholders such as farmers, ranchers, loggers and sportsmen that future gray wolf listing decisions should come from wildlife experts, not from courtrooms. I thank my Senate colleagues for joining me in this bipartisan effort to help our states reasonably control gray wolf populations, and I thank the sponsors of a corresponding measure in the House of Representatives, especially Representative Sean Duffy.”
Senator Barrasso said, “Wyoming has honored its commitment and put together a solid plan to protect the state’s wolf population. Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agrees that wolves in Wyoming should be taken off the endangered species list. It’s time to move forward, recognize the science and focus taxpayer resources on truly imperiled species. This bill is just one of many legislative opportunities we’ll continue to pursue until Wyoming’s wolf management plan is protected and fully implemented.”
“The people who are closest to the areas where wolves are being delisted have the best understanding of how to manage them and should be left to do so. This bill would allow that to happen without interjections from the courts,” Senator Enzi said. “This is an issue that Wyoming has been dealing with for decades. I trust local wildlife managers to manage wildlife better than judges, lawyers and the self-serving administrators and lobbyists of environmental groups in Washington miles away.”
“The Endangered Species Act plays a critical role in saving species from the brink of extinction, and when it does, we must acknowledge we have succeeded in restoring wildlife populations by delisting them. According to both federal and state wildlife biologists, this goal has been achieved with the gray wolf,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’ve heard from farmers, sportsmen and wildlife experts, and they all agree. The wolf has recovered, and we must return its management back to the State of Wisconsin, both for the safety and economic well-being of Wisconsinites and the balance of our environment.”
Senator Klobuchar said, “I support the Endangered Species Act. In this case, the wolf has been listed for more than 30 years. During that time, the wolf population has completely repopulated in Minnesota, growing to more than 2,000, well above the minimum goal,” said Sen Klobuchar. “This increase in the wolf population provides strong evidence that the Endangered Species Act has been successful and the gray wolf should be delisted.”
In late 2014, a judge in Washington, D.C., overruled a management plan on the gray wolf agreed to by the Department of the Interior and several states, returning the gray wolf to the Endangered Species List. This bill would direct the secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules related to the listing in those states affected.
For the full text of the bill, see here.
For a short explanation of the issue, please see here.