DeFazio Leads 73 Members on Bipartisan Letter Urging Interior Secretary Jewell to Maintain Critical Gray Wolf Protections: On Wednesday, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and 73 bi-partisan members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell requesting that she withdraw the current delisting proposal for gray wolves across most of the lower 48. A list of the Representatives who signed the letter is available here. This letter comes in response to the unanimous conclusion from an independent panel of expert scientists that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not use the best available science in their delisting proposal. In a statement on Wednesday, Congressman DeFazio said: “I’ve long said that ESA [Endangered Species Act] decisions should be based on science, not politics, and the experts who have reviewed the so-called science behind the proposed rule have spoken…Continued protection under the Endangered Species Act is the only way that gray wolves will ever return to a significant portion of their range, and reclaim their place as a keystone species of American landscapes. I hope Secretary Jewell agrees.” The comment period for this proposal is coming to a close on March 27 – click here to submit your official comments today.
Wolf Advocates Bring Strong Opposition to Wednesday’s Idaho Fish and Game Hearing: On Wednesday, wildlife advocates from around the region took the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Commission to task over their new predation management plan which would allow the agency to kill up to 60 percent of the wolves living in the Middle Fork Zone, the core of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. Before the 7:00pm hearing in Boise, students from Timberline High School’s TREE Club staged a rally outside of Idaho Fish and Game Headquarters opposing the predation management plan. IDFG Commissioners then heard from citizen activists, conservation non-profits, student activists, and even hunters and farmers who oppose IDFG’s plan to kill more wolves in the wilderness area. Suzanne Stone, Idaho resident and Defenders of Wildlife Senior Representative for Rockies and Plains said: “Idaho Fish and Game’s plan to kill most of the wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness is a grossly irresponsible wildlife management decision. The Frank Church Wilderness is an area set aside by Congress ‘where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.’ This is meant to be a place where wolves can thrive in healthy numbers.”
Wolf Control Board Moves Through Senate: Last Friday, legislation to authorize Gov. Otter’s “Wolf Control Board,” was voted on by the Idaho Senate Resources and Environment Committee who moved to send the bill to the Senate Floor where it ultimately passed 26-8. Governor Otter originally proposed funding for the wolf control board with an initial infusion of $2 million in taxpayer dollars.
But now the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee will only fund the wolf control board with $400,000 the first year, with proposed funding of $400,000 every year four years thereafter subject to appropriation, making the total amount $2 million in taxpayer funds. The slightly amended bill must now go back to the House for final consideration as amended, and then the bill will be sent to Governor Otter for final signing. Under the bill’s current provisions, all taxpayer funding will be used exclusively for lethal wolf management — strategies like the aerial gunning of wolves which Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and Idaho Wildlife Services announced they used in February to kill 23 gray wolves in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border. Defenders staff continue to petition state legislators to modify the bill by including nonlethal control methods as options for wolf management.