HOWL Colorado

Legislative pressure pushes wolf advocates to seek deal

[large thumbnail url=”legislative-pressure-pushes-wolf-advocates-to-seek-deal” filename=”news” year=”2011″ month=”03″ day=”18″] [thumbnail icon url=”legislative-pressure-pushes-wolf-advocates-to-seek-deal” filename=”news” year=”2011″ month=”03″ day=”18″] Wildlife advocacy groups are feeling the pressure of an impending and dangerous legislative solution, which could strip the Endangered Species Act of much of it’s power and leave wolves in all parts of the country at serious risk.

Ten different wildlife advocacy groups, including big players such as the Center for Biological Diversity, say they plan to file a settlement agreement with the Federal courts today which would strip Montana and Idaho wolves of their federal protections, while shielding wolves in other parts of the country.

The deal between the advocacy groups and the U.S. Department of the Interior is in response to the continued legislative attacks on the Endangered Species Act which seek to strip the protections from all wolves.

While the deal would allow Idaho and Montana to resume hunting wolves in their states, it would provide protections for wolves in states like Washington and Oregon, and continue to provide protections for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf which is struggling to establish a viable population in Arizona and New Mexico. The deal also includes the setting up of a scientific panel to review the wolf recovery goals across the six-state northern Rocky Mountains region.

The agreement will have to be approved by Judge Donald Molloy, who initially returned federal protections to all wolves in a decision last year. And while there are many supporting this deal, it’s not a unanimous push from wolf advocacy groups.  A spokesman for the Western Watersheds Project, Tom Woodbury, told the Associated Press that his group would oppose the agreement. Two other groups also plan to object.

Molloy has a record of maintaining federal protections for wolves, but it’s unclear at this point if the opposition to the planned deal would incline the federal judge to not accept the new plan.

The Department of the Interior has not yet commented on the proposed agreement, but a spokesman for the Center of Biological Diversity, Kieran Suckling, said that the settlement agreement would lay the groundwork for an expanded population of wolves in other northern Rockies states, hopefully establishing a second self-sustaining population.

It all feels a little bit like the groups are massaging the message to sweeten the bitter pill which will be Montana and Idaho restarting wolf hunting, however the legislative maneuvering has left too much doubt as to how the U.S. Senate would vote. 

It’s likely that Montana and Idaho will not be completely happy with this deal as it leaves the door open for the scientific panel to ratchet up the recovery goals fairly significantly, which would undermine one of the long-lasting rhetorical talking points which revolves around “promises” of only having 100 wolves per state.

This was never a true representation of what the states were told, however an official overview by a panel of scientists might set the official recovery goals for Montana and Idaho much higher than the special interests want to see.

Wyoming, should this agreement get accepted and implemented, will be fuming and may well lash out much as you saw Montana’s governor do recently. It’s unclear how the federal government might react if this were to happen. However, the wolf management plan in Wyoming is so far out of whack that even the legislators who submitted their various anti-wolf bills were careful to exclude Wyoming. 

Utah simply doesn’t care what the federal government has to say. They will either kill, or physically remove any wolves they find in the state.

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