House Votes to Remove Wolves from Endangered Species List

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House Votes to Remove Wolves from Endangered Species List

The House of Representatives waded into the debate over endangered species during the current lame duck session. By approving legislation to end the endangered status of gray wolves, members of the House took a step that was cheered by many ranchers but panned by environmental activists.

 

While they were once declining, gray wolf populations in the United States have been growing in recent decades. In some areas of the country, such as Idaho and Montana, wolf populations have reached a point where they have been taken off the endangered species list, a process called “de-listing.” In the Great Lakes region, a judge halted a 2011 Interior Department regulation to de-list the wolf population.

 

By a vote of 196-180, the House approved H.R. 6784, the Manage our Wolves Act. One section would remove the gray wolf population in Wyoming and the Great Lakes from protections under the Endangered Species Act. Another section would dictate that no gray wolves in the lower 48 states would be considered endangered. Mexican wolves are not covered under this legislation and would still have protected status.

 

If an animal is listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, there are numerous restrictions on what humans can do to the animals. In the case of wolves, these restrictions led to many conflicts with landowners, especially in the west. Ranchers were especially concerned about wolves killing their livestock. Supporters of removing the wolves’ endangered status say that this will allow states to design plans that will both protect wolves but also take into account landowners’ concerns. Opponents of this legislation argue that wolves play a vital role in ecosystem management, and their numbers show that they still deserve federal protection.

 

This legislation now moves to the Senate. Given the short time before the lame duck session ends, it is unlikely that this body will approve it before adjourning.

 

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