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MN: House bill has Great Lakes money, targets wolves

By John Myers

A bill to fund the U.S. Interior Department that was released in a House subcommittee Tuesday fully funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million.

The move comes after the Trump administration had released a proposed budget that included no money for the program that aims to restore water quality and fish and wildlife habitat across the lakes.

The bill, in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, also takes aim at wolves and sage grouse.

The bill has a rider, or amendment, that restores the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service action removing Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming. If that rider remains and the bill clears the House and Senate, it would make wolves fair game for hunting and trapping again in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Currently hunting and trapping wolves is forbidden under a court order.

Another rider prevents the Interior Department from spending any money on endangered species protection for wolves in any of the Lower 48 states, while another rider prevents any money for sage grouse protections.

The bill is expected to clear the subcommittee Wednesday.