Senate and House pass budget bill with wolf delisting rider.

President Obama will sign the bill into law and wolves will no longer enjoy the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The House and Senate passed a budget bill which included the rider to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah but leaves the status of wolves in Wyoming unchanged.  The rider, attached by Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), mandates that the Secretary of Interior republish the 2009 delisting rule in the Federal Register within 60 days of passage of the bill and restricts the rule from being challenged in court.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The removal of a species from the Endangered Species Act by Congress is an unprecedented move and is likely to be followed by more such moves in the future.  Congress has basically said that if a species becomes too inconvenient to industry then it shouldn’t be allowed protection and management of the species doesn’t have to subject to the best available science.

What comes next is anyone’s guess but surely there will be a great number of wolves killed in Idaho and Montana in areas where their respective game agencies have blamed wolves for declined elk populations. Those killings could begin immediately after the rule is published in the Federal Register and if they occur soon then they will undoubtably end up killing packs of wolves who are near their den sites.  Idaho has committed to maintain only 10-15 breeding pairs or 100-150 wolves in total and they recently passed a wolf disaster declaration which defines a wolf disaster as having any more than 100.  Even though that legislation is now moot because it only applied while wolves were not protected under the ESA, it is a signal of things to come from the legislature next year.

One thing should become abundantly clear.  The livestock industry, with the help of Democrats, did this. If anyone thinks that Democrats represent the interests of wildlife advocates or that the livestock industry presents anything other than a threat to wildlife then they are fooling themselves.  Now that you recognize this what do you do?  Do you hold them accountable?  Do you escape from your codependent behavior that so many of us used to avoid conflict with our families and understand that it is effective politically?  Really, this happened because the anti-wolf crowd was able to rile up people into a fervor using hyperbole and fear that was noticed by politicians who are only worried about their reelection.  That’s how politics works.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

At least one group is already blaming the non-settling groups for taking away “leverage to rally senators against Tester and Reid” even though the judge specifically pointed out that he did not have the discretion to “allow what Congress forbids”.  Of course I wasn’t pleased with the settlement deal and I don’t think that it would have provided any more protection than what wolves face today but I also don’t think that it is useful to blame anyone other than the people who orchestrated this gutting of the Endangered Species Act.  We could have that conversation but what purpose does it serve other than to feed one’s ego?

The real focus should be on making sure that wolves remain on the landscape and serve a meaningful role in the ecosystem and not just a token population that exists at artificially low levels.  I suggest that there are a few main targets to make sure this happens.  First, defund the Wildlife Services predator control program, they need to be grounded so that they can’t kill wolves from the air.  Second, conservationists need to recognize that the livestock industry is who orchestrated this and that they will be more scrutinized now that they have done this.  More focus should be placed on public lands ranching that depends so much on the good graces and taxes of the public. And Third, the politicians who take the votes of wildlife advocates need to held to account.  Western Democrats worked hand in hand with Republicans and the livestock industry to get this done.  They need to know that they will face primary challengers who are willing to scuttle their entire candidacy just to make the point.

Does the metaphorical Hayduke live?  I’m not so sure anymore.  Can he be resurrected?  I hope so.  As conservationists we have to give them hell.

Attention being given to wolf delisting language in budget bill by the press.

There has been a flurry of press and opinion about the wolf delisting rider attached to the budget bill and the ongoing negotiations in Wyoming to change their wolf management plan in the last several days.

Some of the reporting is good and some misses important elements of the controversy but the issue has become very well publicized.  By all reports I’ve received, members of the House and Senate have received a huge number of calls about the issue but, unless the bill is defeated, there is likely no way to remove the language from it.

Below the fold is a long compilation of just the articles which have appeared in the press in the last two days.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wolf Delisting Language Contained in 2011 Fiscal Year Budget Bill

New language protects Wyoming ruling over the State’s management plan.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, new language was added to the rider which delists wolves in the Northern Rockies at the insistence of Wyoming’s delegation.  The new language intends to make it easier for Wyoming’s plan to pass muster or make it so that a plan that is being negotiated will pass muster with the USFWS.  There are reports that Governor Mead has been holding meetings behind closed doors among only groups who have little respect for wolves.  The deal being considered would slightly decrease the free-for-all kill zone and provide for “dispersion routes” so that wolves could possibly disperse to Colorado or Utah.

Cody Coyote commented on the Wyoming negotiations here.  The pulled article he mentions was here.

This is the language contained in the Final FY 2011 Budget Bill.

SEC. 1713. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15123 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming in Case Numbers 09–CV–118J and 09–CV–138J on November 18, 2010.

What does this all mean? Well, first, this language requires the Secretary of Interior to reissue the 2009 delisting rule which leaves out Wyoming but delists wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and northern Utah. This cannot be challenged in court. And, as I pointed out above, it also protects the decision that the judge in Wyoming made which requires the USFWS to re-examine Wyoming’s wolf management plan.

If it passes this could happen at any time during the following 60 days.