January 16, 2009
The U.S. Senate this week overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill relating to wolves by Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.).
In Montana, the legislation authorizes federal money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to boost Montana's livestock loss fund. That fund repays Montana ranchers the full market value of animals killed by wolves.
The measure, officially called the Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act, was included in a major public lands bill, which passed with a vote of 73-21.
The Bush Administration on Wednesday announced plans to take gray wolves in Montana off the Endangered Species List. Wolves were reintroduced to the Rocky Mountains 14 years ago.
"Wolves are a thriving part of our ecosystem, but they're also a threat to Montana's number one industry-agriculture," Tester said. "Now it's time for the federal government to follow through and make sure wolves don't hurt our jobs, our outdoor heritage and the livelihoods of countless folks who make a living off the land. That's why Senator Barrasso and I put our party differences aside and teamed up for this common-sense solution."
"Washington's decision to force the introduction of the wolf on Wyoming has been a danger to ranchers' livelihoods. Washington should pay for the damage to our ranchers," Barrasso said. "Sen. Tester and I worked across the aisle to introduce some Western common sense to solve this Washington-made problem."
The legislation will also minimize wolf kills in states like Montana and Wyoming by allowing federal grants to improve fencing, improve grazing practices and to encourage the use of guard dogs.
Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Mike Crapo (Idaho) are also cosponsors.
The measure is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives next week before going to President Obama to be signed into law.
Reprinted from the Montana News Station