The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a respected organization known for its independent voice, and other leading wildlife groups say a bill sponsored by Montana’s Democratic US Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester falls short when it comes to dealing with wolves.
The full text of a press release sent out by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is included below.
While RMEF is praising a bill by Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT), The Arizona Republic begs to differ in this editorial:
The Endangered Species Act is a recognition of the value of species diversity as part of every American’s national heritage. States don’t trump that national interest.
Yet Rehberg wants Congress to exclude all wolves – including those in Arizona and New Mexico – from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups say this effort could also be tacked onto a larger bill without debate.
Both these efforts circumvent the role of Congress as a place to openly debate matters that affect the nation. They also run around a careful process for species delisting that is built into the existing law of the land.
This approach could create a precedent of excluding animals based on politics instead of biology. It would neuter the Endangered Species Act, which is recognized as one of the world’s premier environmental laws. Rehberg’s scheme would doom the Mexican gray wolves.
FULL RELEASE FROM RMEF:
The groups — including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Mule Deer Foundation, American Farm Bureau, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, National Sheep Industry Association, NRA and many others — recently endorsed two bills already in Congress, H.R. 509 and S. 249. Both bills would broadly remove unnecessary federal protections on fully recovered wolf populations and grant management authority to the states.
The bill introduced by Senators Baucus and Tester calls for delisting wolves in Montana and Idaho, leaving out multiple states with fully recovered wolf populations and those states with wolves now crossing their borders. Senior Montana Senator Baucus stated, “This debate has gone on long enough and Montanans don’t need D.C. bureaucrats telling us how to manage wolves in our state.”
“We agree that we don’t need bureaucrats dictating wildlife policies so why are we stopping short of providing all states with the same considerations? Further, this bill does not remove the D.C. bureaucrats from the issue. This proposed legislation leaves out dozens of states with wolf issues and one has to ask why would we do that to one another? Sportsmen, ranchers and farmers alike have one another’s backside on issues like this, we don’t leave others out of a real solution,” said David Allen president and CEO of RMEF.
“Why won’t Montana’s Senators support a bill that’s cosponsored by so many Democrats, and so many reputable organizations? We fully support Congressman Rehberg’s and Congressman Matheson’s bi-partisan efforts to delist wolves in all states, and encourage Senators Baucus and Tester to also cosponsor the Senate companion, S.249, introduced by Senator Hatch,” said Miles Moretti, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “Further, we don’t understand the reluctance to squarely address the real problem of the overreaching and manipulation to keep this issue tied up in the courts. Why do the views of the environmentalists trump good, solid science and common sense?”
Great Lakes states, also desperate for wolf management, are omitted from the Baucus-Tester bill as well as several Western states where wolves are unchecked. Gray wolves have been listed as endangered in the Great Lakes since the mid-1970s and have been deemed a recovered species for over two decades.
“We cannot afford to get this legislation wrong. Merely winding the clock back to 2009 as the Baucus-Tester bill does, does not fully address the real issue. It leaves many, many states out in the cold and it still leaves opportunities for future court litigation, so this bill falls short of addressing the real issues. Sportsmen and agriculture are solidly together on this issue and we do not support a fractional solution,” stated Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association.
The fate of the State of Wyoming has been in limbo for some time in this entire debate. Recently a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted in a capricious and arbitrary way in denying Wyoming’s wolf management plan in the past. “Wyoming has been used as a scapegoat and yet there is simply nothing wrong with their wolf management plan. Wolf numbers have thrived in Wyoming despite the debate and there are many areas of Wyoming where wolves do not belong as these are strictly farm and ranch areas; wolves will do nothing but get into trouble in those areas. Wyoming’s plan is very reasonable,” Allen added.
Alternatively, H.R. 509 and S. 249 recognize the urgent and sustained need for—and the long and successful history of—professional state-based management of wildlife resources. Allen urged RMEF members and other concerned sportsmen and conservationists to contact their elected representatives and confirm support of these two measures.
Groups endorsing nationwide wolf delisting and management via H.R. 509 and S. 249:
American Farm Bureau
American Sheep Industry Association
Arizona Cattle Feeders Association
Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association
Arizona Wool Producers Association
Big Game Forever
California Cattlemen’s Association
California Public Lands Council
California Wool Growers Association
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association
Colorado Wool Growers Association
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Florida Cattlemen’s Association
Georgia Cattlemen’s Association
Idaho Cattle Association
Idaho Wool Growers Association
Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas
Kansas Livestock Association
Maryland Sheep Breeders Association
Michigan Cattlemen’s Association
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation
Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association
Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association
Montana Association of State Grazing Districts
Montana Public Lands Council
Montana Stockgrowers Association
Mule Deer Foundation
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Trappers Association
Nebraska Sheep & Goat Association
Nevada Cattlemen’s Association
North Carolina Sheep Producers Association Inc.
Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
Oregon Sheep Growers Association
Public Lands Council
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Safari Club International
Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Utah Cattlemen’s Association
Utah Wool Growers Association
Virginia Cattlemen’s Association
Washington Cattlemen’s Association
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wyoming Stock Growers Association