Members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill Tuesday that would strip federal protections from wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming, making the animals vulnerable to state-regulated trophy hunting and trapping. With language preventing any further judicial review, the bill would overrule two court decisions that found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly removed Endangered Species Act protections for the wolf.
“The new Congress is the most extreme and anti-wolf our country has ever seen, and members wasted no time in attacking endangered wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This bill promises to undo hard-earned progress toward gray wolf recovery that has taken years to achieve. Without federal protection hundreds of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan will once again suffer and die every year.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region (Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota) in 2011, and in Wyoming in 2012. In both instances federal judges overturned agency decisions for prematurely removing protections, failing to follow the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and ignoring the best available science.
Lawmakers have responded to these decisions by repeatedly attempting to remove protections for wolves. Since the 2011 passage of a rider abolishing wolf protections in the northern Rocky Mountains, there have been dozens of legislative attacks on wolves in Congress. Yesterday’s bill is the first introduced in the 115th Congress to strip federal protections from endangered wildlife.
“Wolf recovery should be allowed to follow a course prescribed by science, not politics,” Adkins said. “This shameful meddling is harmful to wolves, harmful to science and harmful to our democratic processes.”
The anti-wolf bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). Similar bills have passed the House in recent years but failed to clear the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. This bill’s chances are considered much better with Republicans controlling the House, Senate and soon the White House.