The U.S. House of Representatives approved a plan to remove wolves from endangered species status. This act could put management of the predators back into the hands of states.
Republican Representative Greg Walden, Oregon, indicated that the U.S. House of Representatives approved his amendment to remove wolves from the national endangered species list. The measure was approved by a vote of 223 to 201.
Walden was joined by Washington Reps. Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers in presenting the amendment to the House. The amendment blocks funds used for treating wolves in the lower 48 states as endangered or threatened, under the Endangered Species Act.
Walden’s wolf plan was part of a larger bill that sets the annual budget for the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.
In a 231-196 vote on July 14, the House approved the full $32-billion legislation, Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017.
Andrew Malcolm, spokesman for Rep. Walden, indicated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had already proposed delisting wolves, but that proposal was in 2013. This amendment would speed that up, and adding the proposal to the larger funding bill would get it into legislation and help to withstand any legal challenges.
But this amendment is only one step in the process. It would also require companion legislation to be passed in the U.S. Senate before going to the President’s desk for final approval.
Oregon wolves are already delisted as endangered species according to the state endangered species act. But federally the wolves in Central and Western Oregon remain under endangered species status. Eastern Oregon wolves have been removed from the federal ESA listing.
Walden suggests that his amendment would streamline things and make for more efficient management of wolves by placing them under the state’s management system.
“Oregon’s wolf population has grown by more than 40 percent, and yet we have this divided management strategy in the federal government where in part of the state wolves are still listed and part of the state they’re not. We need a single management strategy where we have local control under the Oregon state plan,” said Walden. “That’s why this amendment is so important. We need to repeal the endangered species listing for the gray wolf, and get it under state management where we’ve got the most local control so Oregonians can make the decisions.”
Democrat Representative Peter DeFazio, Oregon, voted against Walden’s amendment. DeFazio suggested that “It’s borne of some ancestral, irrational fear of wolves, which permeates the agricultural community and the Republican Party here in Washington, D.C..”
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