Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wolf Negotiations Go Awry

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Meetings between the governors of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar took a turn Monday.

"I was ready to go forward with a hunt in January of 170-something wolves,” said Mont. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, “But the governors, we couldn't come to a consensus with the Secretary of Interior about a possible legislative fix."

According to Schweitzer, Idaho and Wyoming refused to concede to the Interior Secretary's plans, including Wyoming having three years to draft an acceptable wolf-management plan. As of now, Wyoming's law lists wolves as a predator which allows wolves to be killed by any method, by anyone, without a license in over 85% of the state.

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The Obama administration has been looking to lift Endangered Species Act protections from the gray wolf, which has been a long-heated issue.

Environmentalists have opposed delisting wolves due to the threat of their successful comeback. Although wolves have surpassed their recovery goal numbers, there is still question on whether these numbers are viable for full species recovery. If delisted, the wolves would likely be opened to public hunting.

Sportsmen and ranchers, conversely, are in favor of delisting wolves. They argue the predators are decimating elk and livestock.

In April 2009, wolves were removed from the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho, while remaining on the list in Wyoming. In August 2010, Judge Molloy relisted wolves and grizzlies, stating protections cannot be awarded by political boundaries. Judge Molloy upheld that the entire range of the Rockies must be treated as a whole.

Delisting would mean the states would take control of management of approximately 1,700 wolves.

The state plans assure that the states will maintain a population of 100 wolves in Idaho and 100 in Montana.

Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter has stated on his website that “we are just as committed as ever to delisting and restoring State management of wolves as quickly as possible. We now have more time to focus on a path forward on delisting- whether that is through Congress or via the courts.”

Ken Cole, environmental policy coordinator for the Western Watershed Project said, "Essentially, ranchers and some sportsmen are upset because we keep winning our cases in court, forcing them to follow the law. They feel entitled to a predator-free environment. So, in order to get what they want, they're trying to change the law- in my opinion, this would set a terrible precedent."
Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff has stated that talks are still going on, but according to Schweitzer it is doubtful legislation on this issue will see Congress this year.

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