Bill Delisting Wolves Falls Short of Addressing the Real Issue

Bill Delisting Wolves Falls Short of Addressing the Real Issue

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

MISSOULA, Mont. –-( A Congressional bill yesterday was introduced by Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester that calls for delisting of wolves in only Montana and Idaho, which leaves a call for Congress to fix the growing wolf delisting debate far short of an acceptable solution.

Some 47 of America’s leading sportsmen and agricultural groups are calling for Congress to step-in and stop the overreaching and manipulating use of the Endangered Species Act to tie up wolf delisting in the courts.

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

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.7 million acres, a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at or 800-CALL ELK.

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