By John Myers
Senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming on Tuesday introduced their version of a bill that would once again allow hunting and trapping of wolves in those states.
The bill is similar to one introduced earlier this month in the U.S. House and signals the likelihood that federal endangered species protections will end for the big carnivore sooner rather than later.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. introduced the bill that would “delist” the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming and give control of the animal back to state and tribal wildlife agencies in those states.
Gray wolves were delisted once before in 2011, but a federal judge’s order in late 2014 restored federal Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in those states with the judge agreeing with wolf supporters that wolves have not recovered in enough of their original range to be considered “restored.”
But many farmers and hunters say the animals need to be culled. Many lawmakers agree.
The bills would override the judge’s decision. They must still pass the full House and Senate and be signed into law by the president.
“The Endangered Species Act plays a critical role in saving species from the brink of extinction, and when it does, we must acknowledge we have succeeded in restoring wildlife populations by delisting them,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’ve heard from farmers, sportsmen and wildlife experts, and they all agree. The wolf has recovered, and we must return its management back to the State of Wisconsin, both for the safety and economic well-being of Wisconsinites and the balance of our environment.”