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House approves wolf delisting amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) announced that a plan to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 223 to 201. He was joined by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane) and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside) to introduce the amendment to the bill that sets the budget for the Department of the Interior and other agencies. The amendment has been approved, but the House has not yet voted on the appropriations bill.

“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,” Walden said. “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 decisions.”

The gray wolf is delisted in areas east of Highway 395 in Oregon, but remains on the federal list for the west side of the state. Meanwhile, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has delisted the wolf for the entire state, however the federal controls kick in on the west side. Without the federal list, that would mean all of Oregon’s wolves would be governed by the Oregon Wolf Plan, which was worked out by a group comprised of experts, environmentalists and livestock producers.

The state delisting has been supported by the Oregon Legislature and is being challenged in court by animal rights groups.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the recovery of the species and proposed delisting it three years ago. However, litigation by environmental and animal rights groups has slowed that process to what Walden describes as a “crawl.”

A vote on the bill that contains the gray wolf amendment is expected in the House soon.