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Gray Wolves and Wild Lands Targeted in Federal Budget

Provisions aim to hamper wild lands protection; marks first time Congress attempts to delist a species
April 12, 2011
Washington, D.C. —

Anti-environmental provisions that remove Endangered Species protections for endangered gray wolves and another that seeks to strip the government of its authority to protect some of America’s best undeveloped natural public lands are in the budget bill to be voted on by the end of this week.

While the White House and the Senate averted a disastrous government shut-down last week, they failed to block amendments that sacrifice one of America’s most important wildlife safeguards. The amendment to remove ESA protections for wolves marks the first time in history that a species will be delisted by Congress.

The following statement is from Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen:

“President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stood tall on protecting our Appalachian mountains from further damage by mountaintop removal coal mining operations and Americans from mercury-pumping cement kiln pollution, as well as soot and carbon dioxide emissions yet House Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party flank were relentless in pushing their anti-environment agenda and together with some Senate Democrats were able to keep an amendment in the budget bill that strips protections for America’s wildlife.

“Wolves deserve protections just like every other species and it’s a tragedy that they’ve been thrown under the bus for political reasons. By law, lifting federal endangered species protections is supposed to be based solely on biology, not politicians enacting their political judgment. Let the wildlife experts do their jobs. Keep politics out of wildlife management.

“The wolf provision supported by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) removes federal protections for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana, plus portions of Oregon, Washington, and Utah.

“Although the immediate legislative threat is to wolves, the bigger threat is to all protected species, polar bears, grizzly bears, whales, and salmon among many. These animals are now vulnerable by the precedent of Congress substituting their political views for those of wildlife experts. This puts us on a path toward dismantling the Endangered Species Act by many individual attacks.

“Not only do we stand to lose protections for our gray wolves, but this budget bill now contains Congressional language aimed at tying the hands of federal land managers overseeing some of America’s last great wild natural lands.

 “The wolf provision has nothing to do with cutting our spending. This is not the budget bill Americans are looking for.”

Additional Information:
Attack on Wolves, SEC. 1713 (Pg. 290): For the first time in history, Congress is removing a species (gray wolves) from the Endangered Species Act based on political, rather than biological, judgments. The spending plan calls for delisting the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Washington.

Attack on America’s Public Lands, SEC. 1769 (Pg. 304): The spending bill tries to prevent the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from identifying and protecting special wild, undeveloped public lands.

Contacts

Doug Honnold, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699

Marjorie Mulhall, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

Jess Ennis, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 221

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.