WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced legislation this week that directs the secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules related to the listing of the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The bill serves as the Senate companion to the bipartisan House bill introduced by Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) earlier this year.
“After over 30 years of needed protection and professional pack population management, the wolf has made its comeback,” Johnson said. “In 2011, the administration’s Department of the Interior determined the number of wolves in the western Great Lakes states to be sufficient and growing and made the correct decision to delist them as an endangered species. President Obama’s own Interior secretary applauded the decision, saying, ‘Thanks to the work of our scientists, wildlife managers, and our state, tribal, and stakeholder partners, gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region are now fully recovered and healthy.’
“Unfortunately, in late 2014, a liberal judge in Washington, D.C. overruled the administration’s wildlife experts in the field and returned the gray wolves to the Endangered Species List. It’s obvious the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service judges its past delisting decision to have been correct, and the ongoing efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere to properly manage the wolf levels are working well. Simply put, wolves in these four states are no longer endangered and do not need the protections the ESA afforded them in the past.
“Our bill's language does not modify the Endangered Species Act, nor does it prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from ever returning the wolf to the endangered list if it determines the population is again threatened and in need of federal protection. I strongly agree with Wisconsin’s farmers, ranchers, loggers and sportsmen that future gray wolf listing decisions should come from the experts, and not from judges.
“Several important strides have been taken this year to once and for all give the final say on the gray wolf’s status to our expert researchers inside the state Department of Natural Resources and the Department of the Interior. I’m glad to be a part of this important effort, and it is my hope that all senators from these four affected states will join Sen. Barrasso and me in this effort. “
“Wyoming has honored its commitment and put together a solid and working plan to protect the state’s wolf population. Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agrees that wolves should be delisted in Wyoming,” said Barrasso. “This is just one of many legislative opportunities we’ll continue to pursue until Wyoming’s wolf management plan is protected and fully implemented.”
A full text of the bill can be found here.