Monday, November 23, 2015

Sen. Barrasso takes wolf battle to the Senate

Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015
Sen. John Barrasso has introduced a companion bill to existing legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would strip federal protection for Wyoming’s wolves.

Assigned to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Nov. 10, S. 2281 would reissue a rule that in 2012 removed Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in Wyoming and gave management to the state. The Wyoming Republican’s legislation — like a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis in the House — would also give management of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan back to the states, allowing hunting.

Barrasso vowed persistence in using a legislative approach to get around the Endangered Species Act protocol. Since a federal courts ruling came down in September 2014, the act has dictated how the approximately 300 wolves in the Equality State are managed. “This is just one of many legislative opportunities we’ll continue to pursue until Wyoming’s wolf management plan is protected and fully implemented,” Barrasso said in a statement. “Wyoming has honored its commitment and put together a solid and working plan to protect the state’s wolf population,” he said. “Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agrees that wolves should be delisted in Wyoming.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin. Lummis also paired with a Wisconsin representative, Reid Ribble, in her February 2015 legislative effort to give Wyoming managers control once again over the canine.
The language of the Senate and House bills are nearly identical, and both are terse.
The bills would give Fish and Wildlife 60 days to reissue delisting rules “without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies.” They also prohibit any court from reviewing the decision.
Johnson, the Wisconsin senator, said in a statement that the bill would not modify the Endangered Species Act. “Nor does it prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from ever returning the wolf to the endangered list if it determines the population is again threatened and in need of federal protection,” he said. “I strongly agree with Wisconsin’s farmers, ranchers, loggers and sportsmen that future gray wolf listing decisions should come from the experts, and not from judges.”
Last winter, Gov. Matt Mead backed using a legislative approach on the wolf issue. “Congressional action is now the most effective means to bring gray wolf management under state control,” Mead told The Associated Press in February.
In 2011 Congress took the unprecedented step of delisting wolves in Idaho and Montana and portions of Utah, Washington and Oregon.
The website, however, predicts that the current legislation has just a 25 percent chance of being passed in committee and a 5 percent chance of becoming law.