Posted: Apr 13, 2011 8:27 AM by News Staff (KTVQ Billings)
Updated: Apr 13, 2011 9:02 AM
WASHINGTON D.C. - Does the new budget bill in Washington contain the "silver bullet" ending future court battles over delisting wolves in the Northern Rockies ? That appears to be the case.
A rider to the federal budget bill attached by Montana Sen. Jon Tester, takes gray wolves off the endangered species list in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah.
The provision essentially circumvents a Missoula federal judge who has repeatedly blocked proposals to hunt the predators, and re-instates public hunting of wolves as early as this fall in Montana and Idaho.
Speaking to us today via Skype from Washington, Tester acknowledged the rider would block further court intervention.
"We needed to figure out a way to manage these critters just like we manage other wildlife, and this is the way to do it," Tester said. "If you
take a look at impacts wolves have had on domestic livestock, on our big game, it is not deniable that it has been extensive."
Rep. Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican who got the wolf provision in the House bill, said wolves would have remained on the endangered list "indefinitely" without congressional action. Simpson also said he wanted to curb the expansion of the animals into neighboring states.
As for the state of Wyoming, federal protections will remain for wolves at least for now. The budgt bill, though, directs the US Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider Wyoming's wolf management plan, and leaves in tact a federal judge's ruling last year that found the agenices' rejection of Wyoming's wolf management plan was wrong.