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No more federal protections for gray wolves?

Gray Wolf

Photo credit: Dreamstime

The fate of gray wolves that roam the lower 48 has been heavily debated all year. The latest twist in this heated topic came last week when the House of Representatives voted 196-180 to drop federal protections for gray wolves that live within the lower 48. With only 12 members of the GOP opposed to the bill, it now moves onto the Senate.

“Eastern Washington knows better how to manage our land and wildlife than someone sitting in a cubicle in Washington, D.C.,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash), co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement Friday morning. “By delisting the gray wolf, we can allow people in our state and community to use science-based management practices that will benefit both our endangered and native animals while protecting farmers and ranchers. I was proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill because it is important to people here in Eastern Washington.”

According to the Spokesman-Review, the bill “would remove gray wolves from the federal Endangered Species List” and “prohibit federal judicial review of the legislation.” It would not affect the status of the Mexican gray wolf.

In Eastern Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Eastern Oregon and part of Utah, wolves already do not have federal protections.

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McMorris Rodgers and co-sponsor Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash) argue that gray wolves have recovered enough to warrant the removal of federal protections while those opposed to the legislation say politicians shouldn’t act like scientists. Over 50 different conservation and environmental groups that include Earthjustice Eastern Washington Wolf Coalition, the Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Human Society of the United States, wrote a letter against the bill. And, according to the Spokesman-Review, while the National Wildlife Federation supported the delisting of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, the organization pointed out that the general legislation was “too broad.”

“Obviously we strongly oppose measures that would politically chip away support for the Endangered Species Act,” said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations for Defenders of Wildlife, told the Spokesman-Review. “But also substantively it would impact wolves that still enjoy protections under the ESA.”

As goHUNT previously reported, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) launched a science-based review of gray wolves in June in order to determine whether the agency will move forward with delisting the wolves across the lower 48. The proposal, which is expected later this year, will undergo the usual public comment process. FWS did not comment on the House bill.

With roughly 5,000 wolves in the lower 48 states, what will their fate be? Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information.


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Ronald A. - posted 6 months ago on 12-11-2018 01:47:56 pm
Gladewater, Texas

It is about time to make a change.

Jesse M. - posted 6 months ago on 11-26-2018 06:50:08 pm


Dave G. - posted 6 months ago on 11-26-2018 03:15:20 pm
Sacramento, CA

To me it is very simple. You cannot manage all of the species below the apex predators and leave out management of the apex predator. Look at CA and the mountain lions. Totally non-science based, emotional law that removed one apex predator that is devastating herds of deer in the state. We either use the north American conservation model which includes hunters or we don't. You cannot pick and choose which animals are more or less awesome to look at.

Frank C. - posted 6 months ago on 11-26-2018 08:27:34 am

How come so many wolf lovers and anti hunters end up on a hunting website? Have you nothing better to do? I eat meat but I don't troll vegan forums. "Common sense is not so common"

Ken N. - posted 6 months ago on 11-25-2018 06:31:24 pm

How can a wolf in Wisconsin, head north into Canada, and not be protected anymore. And, how can a wolf in Canada, head south into the US and become protected? This is the first legitimate piece of legislation coming out of DC in 2 years. Regulated seasons and population monitoring, like done in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, will ensure a much healthier population for her nters to pursue. Babbling nonsense, like Jennifer and Daniel post, do nothing to add to the sound science that says remove them from the ES list. I read about the river banks in Yellowstone also. All I got out of it was that all the mature trees would be killed by the beavers rather than the saplings being eaten by elk.

marcus t. - posted 6 months ago on 11-25-2018 05:20:13 pm
Pullman, wa

What biology class did you miss? From your understanding I would say most of them. Your comments are largely just snippets of mis-information the left has been espousing for years. They continue to move the goal posts and ignore the science in wolves. Keep at it Jennifer, the left needs your continued writings!

Orion H. - posted 6 months ago on 11-24-2018 05:50:01 pm

Hopefully the senate will approve this bill and let states control predator populations at the local level. The reality is that elk, deer, moose, and prey cannot sustain the harvest levels from wolves, bears, mountain lions, other predators, and humans combined. This is a simple economics problem, which requires a choice. I for one chose to have more elk, deer, and moose for people to harvest, not more wolves and other predators.

Erik S. - posted 6 months ago on 11-24-2018 09:07:46 am

I haven't seen that big of a run-on sentence since grade school, well done Jennifer. Don't waste your energy Nick...

Nick J. - posted 6 months ago on 11-24-2018 08:58:26 am

Jennifer that is perhaps one of the dumbest things Ive read. First, CWD is caused by a prion found in and on the ground. Wolves killing a deer, leaves the prion on the ground. Second, wolves do kill for entertainment. Just ask a coyote. Third, we have been hunting wolves for a while now. Hows the population doing? Did hunters "extinct" them?

Face it. If an animal has a hunt it has a value. Notice its the animals that are hunted that enjoy population growth.

Last. Unless your sleeping on the ground, eating grass, YOU ARE GREEDY. There has been a life and death struggle on this planet since its first day. Stop watching Disney. Stop believing some spritual hokus pokus crap. A wolf is a killer. Plain and simple. It will kill you, your labradoodle, and your cat, and not think twice. Real life isn't a cartoon, perhaps find out about it.

Jennifer R. - posted 6 months ago on 11-23-2018 07:39:11 pm

The war on our wolve's has almost cost the end for them, the hatred and greed not understanding the importance of them, Rancher's never admit, if the cattle were old or sick, wolves will go after , especially when they are put on public land in wolf territory, Humans are the only animal that kill's for entertainment. Humans could learn from wolves, if you hunt them to extinction, man is already feeling the effects, they keep diseases down, and now deer disease is spreading, and soon man will learn when its to late, that we are the reason for all damages due to greed.

Daniel O. - posted 6 months ago on 11-22-2018 04:04:11 am

Well as long as the wolves are not over hunted and some are still kept alive to take down their prey in their habitats, I will be ok with that and their population will remain stable.

Steve G. - posted 6 months ago on 11-22-2018 12:23:08 am
Chuck A. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 03:44:50 pm

Poetic justice for a lady here in northern Wisconsin who was disemboweled on her own porch along with the neighbors dog, the dog was never found, neither were her arms or guts. Call Wisconsin DNR ask them why they couldn't for see wolves and coyotes cross breeding and creating this virulent strain of hybrid. But don't take my word, call Vilas County Sheriff Dept.. Ask the Sheriff what happened in downtown Presque Isle WI that bloody night. To prevent public panic the rug was thrown over this event. The sitting Town Chairman, can all so validate this tragedy. So maybe delisting doesn't go far enough, some hybrid packs of grey wolves need a bounty....So before all you bleeding hearts go off the deep end, educate yourself to all the things that happen in rural america. Chuck A.

Justin F. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 11:24:23 am

Daniel O. maybe you could focus your energy on the mountain caribou, which is actually in real trouble unlike the wolves? Defenders of Wildlife Litigation and similar serial litigators could go help an actual endangered species instead of a cash cow. Maybe Kevin Costner can do a movie with the caribou if that'll tug at the heart string$?

Erik S. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 10:58:37 am

Daniel Q: What exactly makes you think wolves will be endanger of being wiped off the map due to scientific based state management? Why would it be any different than the way state game agencies manage for elk, deer, bears, etc.? That is what needs to happen with all wildlife, and wolves are among the smartest animals there are and very difficult to hunt. Since Wyoming, MT, Idaho have opened hunting seasons they almost never fill the quotas...You cant pick and choose which animals you want hunted based off of emotional attachment it has to be scientific in order to benefit all wildlife.

Kent M. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 08:56:38 am

Minnesota has over 2000 wolves and are not allowed to hunt WTF

Colin P. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 07:46:31 am
Denver, Colorado

With the findings and recommendations of government scientists challenged for years on end, this has moved out of their sphere of influence to the political realm. This bill doesn't erode support for the ESA, it's the result of citizens and politicians loosing faith in its ability to work as designed. What organizations like Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, and HSUS don't realize or don't give a damn about - is they've hamstrung this tool (ESA) which has restored animals to meaningful portions of their former territory.

Kevin H. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 07:24:28 am

I saw that fictional movie too. It ranked right along Walt Disney’s interpretation of Bambi.

Daniel O. - posted 6 months ago on 11-21-2018 06:18:57 am

STOP! Please do not remove protections from the wolves. I care a lot about them since they hunt their prey around where they live including Yellowstone National Park. They are helping keep the prey animals in balance from over-consuming the vegetation in their habitats and they made a great movie called "How Wolves Change Rivers" which explains how they fixed up the national parks from where they were absent from for years before I was born. They belong hunting free and in the wild.