October 8, 2010
On Thursday, U.S. senators from Wyoming, Idaho and Utah announced a bill they say will nip further gray wolf Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in the bud, thus relinquishing the disputed canine's management to states. However, passing the bill may be a Herculean task.
Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mike Crapo and James Risch (Idaho) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) introduced the bill, "Returning Wolf Management to the States Act (S. 3919)." The bill applies to all gray wolves in the lower 48 states and would prevent lawsuits from putting gray wolves back on the endangered species list.
Once an animal is removed from the endangered species list by an act of Congress, it precludes further litigation. If the bill passes, in order to challenge the bill in court, litigators would have to prove the bill is unconstitutional.
However, lawmakers are split along party lines over which states should be allowed to hunt wolves. A measure introduced by Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester (Mont.) would leave wolves endangered in Wyoming, which has a shoot-on-sight law for wolves across most of the state.
"Recovery numbers and science show that wolves no longer need to be on the endangered species list, but frivolous lawsuits and broken federal promises keep them listed," said Enzi.
"Wyoming has met our recovery goals and honored our commitments to recover the wolf," Barrasso said. "It's time for Washington to now hold up their end of the bargain and delist the wolf."
U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (Mont.) has also drafted, but yet not introduced, a bill for the House that would amend the ESA to lift federal protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho.