The following Press Release was sent out by Michael Robinson from the Center for Biological Diversity.
WASHINGTON— In part to aid the re-election campaign of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Congress today approved a budget bill that includes a rider removing wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the federal endangered species list and sets the stage for near-term delisting in Wyoming. The votes mark the first time that Congress has bypassed the science-based process of the Endangered Species Act and stripped federal protections from an endangered species.
The rider was submitted by Tester and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and approved by Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate. The rider not only eliminates federal protection for wolves but sets a dangerous precedent for other politicians looking to halt recovery of endangered species in their home states.
“This is a dark day for wolves and for all species relying on federal protections for their survival,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Senator Tester included the rider as a ploy to score political points in his 2012 reelection campaign, and now wolves and other species will have to pay the price.”
Delisting removes federal protections from an endangered species and hands management over to state control. The states with the most wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, Idaho and Montana, intend to kill many of the 1,270 animals last counted in their two states, which include approximately 80 breeding pairs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is likely to ramp up aerial gunning of wolves and campaigns that destroy pups in their dens.
The rider approved today by the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives bans citizens from challenging the wolf delisting decision, even if wolf numbers plummet toward zero, while preserving anti-wolf litigation brought by the state of Wyoming and other parties.
Since the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973, Congress has never intervened to override the law and remove a plant or animal from federal protection.
“Congressional delisting without the opportunity to restore protections threatens to bring us back to the days when wolves and other wildlife were systematically poisoned on public lands,” said Suckling. “We ask President Obama to veto the federal budget to ensure that an endangered species is not massacred; that the Endangered Species Act is not gutted; and that the science, not politics, determines which species benefit from federal protections.”