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Saturday, June 22nd, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

U.S. House votes to remove wolves from endangered list in 48 states

The U.S. House moved Tuesday, April 30, 2024, toward ending federal protections for gray wolves, approving a bill that would remove wolves across the lower 48 states from the endangered species list. (Stock photo)

Washington, D.C. — U.S. House of Representatives members voted on April 30, by a 209 to 205 margin, to pass H.R. 764, the Trust the Science Act, that would fully delist gray wolves in the lower 48 states if the bill also sees support from the U.S. Senate and President Joe Biden.

Four Democrats sided with Republicans in voting for the bill that was offered by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). Tiffany said the key difference between the House bill and a delisting bill offered by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is his bill precludes judicial review by protectionist groups, just as a similar Idaho and Montana bill did in 2011.

“The science is clear; the gray wolf has met and exceeded recovery goals,” said Tiffany in a press statement. “Today’s House passage represents an important first step towards restoring local control over the skyrocketing gray wolf population in Wisconsin. I will continue to fight to get this legislation through the U.S. Senate to protect livestock and pets from brutal wolf attacks.”

If passed by the Senate and signed by Biden, wolf management authority would return to the states.

However, even if the measure clears the Senate, a Biden administration statement saying Congress shouldn’t determine whether a species should be delisted has more than hinted the bill would attract Biden’s veto pen.

“H.R. 764 would override and short-circuit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) science-based  administrative rulemaking processes and wildlife recovery planning,” the statement reads.


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The USFWS is in the process of drafting a nationwide wolf recovery plan.

In 2020, the Department of the Interior and USFWS delisted the wolf in the lower 48 states based on science and data available.

“At more than 6,000 wolves at the time of delisting, the gray wolf has been the latest Endangered Species Act success story with significant population recoveries in the Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes regions. However, despite ample scientific evidence of the gray wolf’s recovery, a California judge unilaterally relisted the gray wolf under the ESA in 2022,” Tiffany said.

According to Tiffany, the Trust the Science Act requires the Secretary of Interior to reissue the 2020 Department of the Interior final rule that delisted gray wolves in the lower 48 states and ensures that the reissuance of the final rule will not be subject to judicial review “by activist judges like the California judge who vacated the rule in 2020 and unilaterally relisted the gray wolf by judicial fiat.”

H.R. 764 was cosponsored by 24 members of Congress, including the entire Wisconsin Republican delegation.

“It’s a scientific fact that the gray wolf has recovered well past its recovery goal. Saying otherwise undermines the purpose of the Endangered Species Act. This is a true recovery success story, and it’s past time to give states the reins to control their wolf populations,” Tiffany said in a press statement.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Kevin Krentz weighed in, saying state farmers’ production efforts shouldn’t be subject to decisions by far-flung judges.

“It’s time Wisconsin is allowed to take full control of the management of the state’s top predator,” Krentz said. “The science is proven. Wisconsin’s wolves have been recovered, and it’s time for the management phase of this Endangered Species Act success story.”

Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota), a bill co-sponsor, issued a statement regarding the bill May 1.

“The gray wolf is fully recovered and over time, Republican and Democrat administrations have worked to delist this species,” Stauber said in the statement. “Sadly, any time an attempt to delist is made, well-funded activists return to challenge these efforts with litigation. This roadblock has placed an enormous burden on my constituents, many of whom are concerned with the decimated deer population, the loss of expensive livestock, and the threat this species poses to family pets. We cannot continue to allow activist judges and radical environmentalists to weaponize the Endangered Species Act at the expense of other species and the communities we represent.”

Closer to home, Laurie Groskopf, of Tomahawk, Wis., has tracked the state’s wolf recovery program for more than 25 years.

“Wisconsin sportsmen and farmers now have to work with Sen. Tammy Baldwin,” Groskopf said. “I think there would be a chance (of the bill passing the Senate) if we had an honest discussion with Tammy Baldwin, but I’m not so sure about President Biden. I think he would veto it. We would need people on board from Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas, and Missouri.”

Groskopf included Arkansas and Missouri because wolf protectionist groups are at work in those states trying to reestablish a wolf presence.

“I’ve watched Tammy closely because I’m involved in so many farm organizations. She’s very sensitive to farm groups and gets a lot of farm legislation passed.”

The bill will likely land in the Senate natural resources committee, which is chaired by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). The ranking Republican on that committee is Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming).

In 2013, the Obama administration proposed delisting the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. Currently, the Biden administration is appealing the vacating of the 2020 rule in federal court.

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