Thursday, May 12, 2011

Conservation groups voice support of new wolf delisting legislation

Sportsmen and conservation groups applaud the introduction of new legislation in a bipartisan effort to address challenges presented by unmanaged wolf populations. The bill introduced Tuesday May 10, 2011 by Congresswoman Miller (R)-Michigan and Congressman Jim Matheson (D)-Utah returns wolves to state wildlife management protections in key Western and Midwestern states. Management of wolf populations under state wildlife protections is the best way to protect wolves while also permitting science based determination of what is best for wildlife resources within the states.

Ryan Benson of Big Game Forever addresses the common sense approach of the legislation, "We are grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman Miller, Congressman Matheson and the other lead cosponsors of this proactive legislation. Returning important decision making authority to state wildlife agencies in the West and Midwest ends years of wasteful litigation and provides certainty that America's wolf populations can be managed responsibly and in balance with other wildlife populations."

Amy Trotter, Resource Policy Manager at Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), remarked, "Its unfortunate that, when it comes to wolves, the Endangered Species Act has been hijacked by an anti-sportsmen agenda. Science initially guided the development of recovery goals. But wolf populations still languish on the list despite the fact that populations are now 12 times beyond delisting objectives for the Michigan-Wisconsin population. Michigan residents are frustrated. We welcome Congressional action to allow the states to implement their scientifically based wolf management plans."

Recent announcements that US Fish and Wildlife Service will delist Mid-western wolf populations follow previous efforts to delist abundant wolf Mid-western wolf populations through administrative processes. Conservation organizations recognize that litigation and other delay tactics are likely to be used again to challenge new delisting proposals.

Mark Johnson, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, "Midwestern sportsmen conservationists were disappointed that recent Congressional action failed to address the need to delist wolf populations in Minnesota and most other states. However, we are encouraged by the growing consensus that wolf delisting is long overdue, while also recognizing the need for Congressional action to make delisting decisions immune to another wave of needless litigation. The wolf has recovered. It is time to delist them and place them under state protections and management."

The impacts on wildlife populations in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and other states illustrate the need to be proactive in addressing unmanaged wolf populations. This is important not only to protect delicate wildlife populations but also the economic foundation of wildlife protection. Failures to properly manage wolf populations now present unnecessary risk to vibrant wildlife populations in the West and Midwest.

Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, "With the need to trim billions from the federal budgets, returning management of wolves to all states ends redundant federal expenditures for a job states can do better. More importantly, abundant big game herds are an American treasure, a renewable resource that with proper management can sustain tens of millions of dollars in annual economic activity, tens of thousands of jobs, and the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Americans to put food on the table."

Suzanne Gilstrap, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, "The new delisting proposal aligns wolf recovery objectives in Arizona and New Mexico with Congressional wolf delisting proposals and is consistent with recent Congressional action relative to the gray wolf. The sportsmen of the Southwest welcome the fact that this legislation assures that delisting will in fact follow ongoing investment by states, sportsmen and livestock producers in wolf recovery."