Budget bills rejected in the Senate.

Wolves still protected under the Endangered Species Act

Both of the budget bills which contained language which would have delisted wolves were defeated in the Senate this afternoon. It appears that another short term continuing resolution will be brought up to fund the government once the current CR expires on March 18th.

Senate rejects rival GOP, Democratic budgets.
By ANDREW TAYLOR – The Associated Press

Tester amends federal budget bill to declare wolves recovered in Montana, Idaho

7-month spending bill likely to reach the floor of the Senate tomorrow

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Tester amends federal budget bill to declare wolves recovered in Montana, Idaho.
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

Where do wolves stand?

Also, a discussion about wolf delisting

Here is an article that reasonably sums up where wolves are in the political landscape. Contrary to what I’ve read in other articles, it appears that Carter Niemeyer supports delisting only conditionally. He will likely be marginalized for it.

Niemeyer said that while he agrees wolves should be off the endangered species list, Simpson’s path to get there is inadvisable. “It sets a terrible precedent to delist them outside the normal delisting procedures,” he said. He worries that if the ESA is bypassed, slow and cumbersome as it may be, the results could open a Pandora’s box.

“Reasonable people need to prevail right now, otherwise we’re going to get a political fix that is going to be unacceptable.”

As debate rages, Wood River Valley sees less of predators.
By Ariel Hansen – Magic Valley Times-News

This mirrors my sentiment but I would add that I don’t think that the states or the USFWS have been negotiating in good faith. The states, particularly Idaho and Wyoming, and increasingly Montana, have a toxic view towards wolves. With the new draft legislation it appears that they don’t want to even consider managing wolves using science and rational thought. The legislatures seem to perpetuate every anti-wolf myth and made up tale that the anti side can come up with. The USFWS, despite contrary assertions by the extreme anti-wolf crowd, hasn’t budged from it’s stance that a sustainable wolf population only requires 10-15 breeding pairs per state even though those estimates were made at a time when understanding of wolves and population ecology was in its infancy. Now the science indicates that a much higher population is required.

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Wolf delisting provision gets attached to Republican version of the continuing budget resolution by Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID)

Delists wolves in Northern Rockies but leaves out Wyoming.

The GOP in the House of Representatives is starting to work on their version of a continuing budget resolution that would be needed to fund the government until a formal budget is passed to fund government agencies.  Another way to fund the government could come in the form of an omnibus spending bill until a formal budget is passed.  The Republicans have indicated that they do not support shutting down the government so funding must be appropriated by March 4th when the current continuing budget resolution expires.

The Senate will have its own version and there will likely be a big fight over any funding of the government. There are significant changes that could take place to any of these bills.

The wording of the language is as follows:

SEC. 1713. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this division, 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.

If language like this passes wolves in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah would lose Endangered Species Act protections while those in Wyoming would retain protection.

GOP budget bill lifts wolf protections.
By MATTHEW BROWN – Associated Press

The Tester/Baucus wolf bill is revealed.

Could be introduced and voted on tonight

Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Recovery and Sustainability Act of 2010

Title: To remove the Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment of the gray wolf from the list of threatened species or the list of endangered species published under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Recovery and Sustainability Act of 2010”.

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Wolf Delisting Court Hearing: Sense and Nonsense

Louisa Willcox of NRDC writes about the Delisting Hearing

Louisa Wilcox, of NRDC, has written a great piece about the hearing and how the arguments by the government were disjointed and more about the politics than the law. She raises some good points and gives more information about the judge’s questions of the government’s conflicting arguments.

“Is it rational for the states to manage wolves when their plans are not legally binding or enforceable? When their primary defense is a “trust us” argument? Was not the failure of the states to recover wolves a major reason that wolves got listed in the first place? Given the states’ track record, what rational person would be satisfied with a “trust us” defense?”

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Articles about today’s Wolf Delisting Hearing

Judge wonders why Wyoming was left out of the delisting decision.

It looks like Molloy’s decision will center greatly on the decision of the USFWS to leave out Wyoming. About that decision:

“I understand the practical argument, I understand the political argument. Those two things are very, very clear. But what I don’t understand is the legal argument. That’s not very clear,” the judge said.

Molloy: Why protect wolves in Wyoming, but not Montana and Idaho?.
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

Judge hears arguments in federal wolf case
By MATT VOLZ (AP)

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming Wolf Policies Foreshadow Extinction

The federal authorization for each state to reduce wolves to 100-150 animals puts northern Rockies wolves on a spiral toward extinction.

Interesting opinion piece about the inadequacies of the States’ wolf management plans.

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming Wolf Policies Foreshadow Extinction
By Michael J. Robinson, Guest Writer for New West

Wolf controversy polarizes

Conservationists accuse each other of distorting elk and wolf data.

This article is about the recent public fight between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife.

I think part of the reason that the feud has heated up is because of the use of words like “annihilation” when referencing wolves and elk. I don’t want elk or wolves to be annihilated and I don’t think it will be the case with elk but I do think the states of Idaho and Wyoming, in particular, but Montana to a lesser degree, have shown great public antipathy towards wolves. Also, RMEF has adopted some of the language of the anti-wolf crowd and that riles up people too, including myself.

I stand by the notion that Idaho does not want to manage wolves in the same stated way that they manage bears and lions which number 20,000 and 3,000 respectively. There is no goal of reducing the population of those species to a pre-defined number, especially one as low as 518 statewide. Needless to say, the Legislature of Idaho can force the IDFG to manage for the minimum number of 15 packs of wolves statewide, which is what is in the Legislature’s Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that was accepted by the USFWS.

Wolf controversy polarizes.
Jackson Hole News&Guide

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Uses Hyperbole in Latest Press Release

Accuses groups of being party to may become “one of the worst wildlife management disasters since the destruction of bison herds in the 19th Century.”

I’m not going to say much more about this other than to observe that RMEF seems to be adopting the same type of hyperbole that they accuse the pro wolf groups of using. They are also adopting the unfounded language of some of the most hateful and vitriolic people on the anti-wolf side of the argument.

The fact remains that wolves do impact elk herds locally but the full reason for the declines in some populations are not fully represented in their press release. They infer that wolves are the reason that “[t]he Northern Yellowstone elk herd trend count has dropped from some 19,000 elk in 1995 before the introduction of the Canadian Gray wolf to just over 6,000 elk in 2008. At the same time the wolf numbers in this same area are on a steady increase.” This is disingenuous at best and an outright misstatement of the truth at worst.

Wasn’t reducing elk part of the reason that wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in the first place? Montana FWP specifically had late season hunts on cows in a concerted effort to reduce the population of elk, the winter of 1996/97 had a tremendous impact on them, and yes, wolves played a role along with bears and other predators but the elk population has stabilized and the wolf population has drastically declined as well.

And what’s this business about the “Canadian Gray wolf”? Are they seriously buying that line of crap?

RMEF Turns Up Heat on Pro-Wolf Groups
RMEF press release.

FWP files brief against relisting wolves

Montana does not want wolves to be relisted

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has filed its brief in the wolf delisting lawsuit arguing that wolves should not be relisted under the Endangered Species Act.

Two stories:
FWP files brief against relisting wolves
Billings Gazette

State FWP to Molloy: Wolves are recovered, should be delisted
Missoulian