Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch this week introduced legislation to remove the gray wolf from being listed as a threatened or endangered species in the states of Idaho and Montana. The act is titled the State Wolf Management Act of 2010.
Crapo and Risch argue that the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) has already communicated to wildlife officials in Idaho and Montana that they have complied with recovery efforts for wolf populations, and those efforts should result in wolf management being turned over to state control as federal agencies planned.
A federal judge in Montana ruled against those plans by saying wolves in Wyoming were also covered under the same rules. The Risch-Crapo legislation separates the Idaho and Montana wolves, plus some in adjoining Washington, Oregon and Utah, from the Wyoming wolves when it comes to protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"Considering that the courts have thrown out Idaho's good faith to address the issue, I see no choice that could work for our state, sheep and cattle ranchers, hunters and big game other than to change the law," stated Crapo
"Idaho has met and greatly exceeded every recovery goal imposed on the state by the federal government for the gray wolf and has shown that we can properly manage the wolf just like any other species," said Risch.
The bill directs the DOI to draft regulations to implement the de-listing of wolves within one year.
In another action, Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Denny Rehberg (Mont.) and Mike Ross (Ariz.) are cosponsoring bill HR6028 sponsored by Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), which prohibits the treatment of the gray wolf as an endangered or threatened species. The legislation would allow western states to manage the now-recovered gray wolf populations themselves.
"Federal wolf recovery experts have said that the reintroduction of the gray wolf is a success," Matheson said. "It's time to let state wildlife professionals do their job and balance the needs of predator and prey to maintain a healthy balance."
This legislation is partially a response to legal challenges by some anti-agriculture groups who have argued the gray wolf should not be removed from the ESA until it has been re-established in all 50 states.