To enforce a District of Montana court order in August, Fish and Wildlife officials will publish a rule in the Federal Register Tuesday that reinstates endangered protections under the ESA for gray wolves in north-central Utah, Montana, Idaho and eastern Oregon and Washington.
“While Fish and Wildlife has to comply with the court order, the federal judge’s misguided ruling in August clearly demonstrates the need for my bill to put the states in charge of managing the wolves within their boundaries,” said Hatch, who introduced the Returning Wolf Management to the States Act (S. 3919) with Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in September.
“Washington bureaucrats and federal judges need to step aside and let the state fish and wildlife professionals who are best equipped to manage wolves do their job,” Hatch said. “Wolf numbers have soared to the point that they are now a menace to livestock and wildlife. Utah and other states have successfully managed deer, elk and other wildlife for years, and I’m confident they would do just as well managing gray wolves.”
To provide states with the authority to manage wolf populations, S. 3919 would remove gray wolves from ESA protections. It also would pre-empt outstanding lawsuits over wolf management and prevent further litigation.
Gray wolves have been on the ESA since 1972. Prompted by wolves’ growing numbers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from protection in 2009. In August, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy returned ESA protection to the gray wolf.