Wolf becomes sacrificial lamb in budget bill

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Wolf provision sets dangerous precedent for skirting wildlife protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. (04/14/2011) -

Congress gave final approval for a budget deal today that includes a non-budget provision to strip federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies. The provision, put forth by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), requires the Secretary of the Interior to reinstate the same 2009 delisting rule that was declared unlawful by a federal district court, while insulating the provision from any legal challenge.  

The following is a statement from Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

“What Congress has done today at the request of Senator Tester and Representative Simpson is unforgiveable and marks a low point in the recent history of wildlife conservation. Never before has Congress stripped Endangered Species Act protections for one particular species, putting politics above sound science and our national commitment to conserving America’s wildlife.

“Congress is selling out America’s wolves, and in the process is also undermining not only one of our greatest wildlife conservation successes, but also the Endangered Species Act, one of the world’s most far-sighted conservation laws. This provision sets a terrible precedent that could be regarded as an invitation to other legislation to strip protections for any other endangered species that a politician finds inconvenient to protect. Grizzly bears, salmon, whales, polar bears, and Florida manatees and panthers are just examples of those that could be at risk.

“The Obama administration and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in particular share the responsibility for undermining the Endangered Species Act. Secretary Salazar started down this unfortunate path when he adopted the Bush administration's delisting plan, which was clearly illegal.  When the court ruled that his delisting was illegal, he repeatedly expressed support for legislative delisting in spite of the damage that he had to know it would do to the Endangered Species Act.

“America’s wildlife should not be used as a bargaining chip on a budget deal. We call on all our elected leaders to renew their commitment to protecting endangered wildlife—not just when the political winds are blowing at their backs, but also when they’re facing into a storm.”

The following is a statement from Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:

“Congress’ action to strip protections for wolves is an absolute and unnecessary travesty. What happens next is entirely up to the states.

“For years, western states and Idaho and Montana in particular have been demanding the right to manage wolves like they manage other wildlife. Now here’s their chance to prove that they can do so responsibly, based on the scientific principles of wildlife conservation rather than the incendiary rhetoric of anti-wolf fanatics.  

“As we move forward, we will be monitoring how wolves are managed, and we’ll work together with those who are willing to do their part to ensure a long-term future for wolves. We urge all Americans who care about wildlife to do the same to make sure that the wolves we fought so hard to restore are not needlessly eliminated once again.”

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Links:

Read the text of the wolf provision (Title VII, Sec. 1713, pg. 290)

Read more about what Defenders is doing to protect wolves in the Northern Rockies

Contact(s):

John Motsinger, (202) 772-0288

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Photo: Joel Sartore
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