114th Congress Has Now Launched Nearly 20 Legislative Attacks on Wolves
WASHINGTON— Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives today introduced a bill to fund the U.S. Department of the Interior that includes a poison-pill rider to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes and to undermine other endangered species protections. The legislative rider would undo two court decisions affirming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly removed Endangered Species Act protections for the wolf.
“This is the most extreme, anti-wolf Congress our country has ever seen,” said Jamie Pang, an endangered species campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rather than allowing for wolf recovery to follow a course prescribed by science, a small group of politicians has repeatedly tried to undermine species protections through unrelated policy riders tacked onto must-pass federal spending bills.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region (Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota) in 2011, and in Wyoming in 2012. In both instances federal judges overturned agency decisions for prematurely removing protections, failing to follow the requirements of the Act and failing to follow the best available science. Republican lawmakers have responded by repeatedly attempting to remove protections from wolves and open the animals up to state-regulated hunting and trapping. Since the passage of the 2011 wolf rider that removed protections from wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, there have been almost 30 legislative attacks on wolves in Congress. Already in 2016 there have been 10 legislative attacks, surpassing the number of anti-wolf bills for all of 2015.
In addition to this rider, the appropriations bill also contains language preventing the greater sage grouse from being protected under the Act, and would weaken protections for salmon and the Delta smelt in California’s Bay-Delta region.
“This shameful meddling is harmful to science, harmful to the rule of law, and harmful to our democratic processes,” said Pang. “Congressional lawmakers know that 90 percent of American voters support the Endangered Species Act, which precisely is why they have to resort to such back-door attempts at weakening the law.”
Despite overwhelming public support for the Endangered Species Act and the species it protects, there has been a greater than 600 percent increase in Republican-led legislative attacks on endangered species since the landmark ruling in Citizens United.