WASHINGTON – Senate and House Republicans are trying to insert language to delist gray wolves in Minnesota, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Michigan from the endangered species list in big Interior Department spending bill proposals this week.
The small rider, buried in pages of proposed legislation, was aired in committee hearings Tuesday. It already has caught the ire of environmentalists and wolf advocacy groups. Farmers and ranchers usually support delisting the wolves from the endangered species list so they can eliminate them when they hurt livestock.
The language provides for the delisting of gray wolves and prohibits the rule from ever being subjected to judicial review — which means it could never be overruled by a future judge.
Rep. Betty McCollum, a higher-up Democrat on the Interior appropriations committee, called the proposal outrageous. “This rider is a tremendous overreach that would interfere in the federal listing of endangered species,” she said in a statement. “Our committee’s role is to appropriate the necessary funds to allow the expert staff of scientists and professionals to do their jobs working to protect endangered species. This bill should not be mandating which species do or do not require protection.”
Dr. Maureen Hackett is the president and founder of Howling for Wolves, based in Minnesota, which has hired its own lobbyist to push against the GOP-controlled appropriations committees. She wants more resources for farmers and ranchers to explore nonlethal wolf-control options. “We oppose the federal delisting of wolves because it’s not based on the best available science, and we don’t have good policies in place in the state of Minnesota that would be responsive and responsible to keep their [wolf] numbers up,” she said.