Separate bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to remove the gray wolf from consideration under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) introduced S. 249 on Tuesday to amend the ESA of 1973 to provide that the ESA not apply to any gray wolf.
Supporters of the Hatch bill state that a nationwide delisting via legislative action is the only solution to stop the endless cycle of litigation and return the sovereign ability of states to manage their wildlife. Gray wolves are no longer endangered. Wolf numbers have far exceeded what sportsmen, ranchers, wildlife conservationists and the public at-large were told was a desirable goal. Specifically, 30 breeding pairs and 300 total wolves was the goal when wolves were released in 1995. The minimum number of wolves is now over 1,700 according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Wolf depredations now threaten the livelihood of ranch families as well as rural economies.
Supporting Hatch are Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Mike Lee (Utah), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Ariz.) and James Risch (Idaho).
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) policy clearly supports the delisting of wolves. This week, ASI endorsed the legislation and is encouraging producers to ask members of Congress to co-sponsor this bill.
Last week, a similar bill (H.R. 509) was introduced in the House by Rep. Denny Rehberg (Mont.). This bill also removes the gray wolf from consideration under the ESA and calls for a new management regime for the gray wolf that will empower state and local officials to create and implement recovery plans on a state-by-state basis.
"The gray wolf isn't endangered, which is why Republicans and Democrats alike are joining forces to end the misuse of the ESA to advance extremist policy agendas," said Rehberg. "Years of research, dedicated efforts by land owners and local officials and the expert opinions of on-the-ground wildlife managers have been given a back seat to profit-motivated environmental groups. We need to end this abuse and solve an issue that should have been put to rest years ago."
Supporting Rehberg are Reps. Rob Bishop (Utah), Dan Boren (Okla.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Paul Broun (Ga.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Kline (Minn.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike Ross (Ariz.), Michael Simpson (Idaho), Greg Walden (Ore.) and Don Young (Alaska).
Both bills have been referred to committee for further review.