Wolf Rhetoric

By Beacon Staff

Federal judge Donald W. Molloy’s egregious ruling to keep those adorable wolves on the endangered list seems to have gotten some attention. Montana’s stalwarts in Congress are finally taking steps to change the law – or at least their press releases claim they are….

Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has drafted a two-page bill which, as of Oct. 3, would “prohibit treatment of Rocky Mountain gray wolves in Idaho and Montana as endangered species” and give Idaho and Montana “exclusive jurisdiction over the management” of wolves within each state.

Across the Capitol and the aisle, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester (Democrats) announced plans to introduce “Common Sense, Lasting” legislation specifying that the listing of wolves in Montana and Idaho “shall have no force or effect.”

Wow! In these days of bitter division, a bipartisan consensus for action? Nope.

First of all, both these bills throw other states to the wolves, and won’t gather support for that reason alone.

Second, the Baucus/Tester draft has a killer catch. Wolf delisting would only occur after the Secretary of the Interior certifies to Congress he/she has “approved a State management plan for the maintenance of Rocky Mountain gray wolf populations” in each state.

Third, another bill with broader support and reach was already introduced in August: HR-6028, by Blue-Dog Texas Democrat Congressman (now, there’s an endangered species) Chet Edwards.

Edwards’ version, co-sponsored by Rehberg, simply states that “(Canus lupus) shall not be treated as an endangered species or threatened species” under the Endangered Species Act. In short, game over, bang-flop.

Edwards’ bill is supported by Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal (D), who in a Sept. 28 letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), declared HR-6028 the “most efficient avenue to finally put the very divisive issue of federal wolf management to rest.”

Freudenthal also wrote Reid that “I cannot support any legislation that would delist only certain portions of the United States and allow the federal government to retain management in areas that are not delisted,” nor “legislation that sets forth delisting pre-requisites that exceed” the original delisting criteria. Attaboy, Dave!

While conventional wisdom blames Wyoming for the current crisis, Wyoming’s only crime was refusing to roll over and play dead. The recovery criteria, 300 wolves in three states, were met long ago. Wyoming’s plan would maintain that standard – a deal being a deal, even a “deal” never agreed to in the first place.

Wyoming’s position: The state had, and has, the right to manage its resident wildlife. When the feds and Greens moved the goalposts, Wyoming stood firm, while Montana and Idaho rolled over like whipped curs.

Now, with at least 1,700 wolves in the three states, snarfing through everything they can catch and eat, how’s that working out?

Will enviros ever see reason and stop moving the goalposts? A few have. Others never will…case in point being a July petition by the hyper-litigous radicals at the Center for Biological Diversity to U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The Center is, not coincidentally, one of the plaintiff groups who sued in bad faith to keep the Northwest wolves listed. Now they want “a national recovery” of wolves – meaning reintroduction to the West Coast, New England and all “suitable habitat” everywhere in between.

With such a history of bad faith, and declaration of future intent, what happened with HR-6028?

According to an e-mail by sportsman activist Don Peay posted to Maine Hunting Today, at least seven Western senators (all Republicans) were on board to vote to add the Edwards bill to a continuing resolution that had to be passed to keep the federal government running. But Peay claims that bringing HR-6028 up for a recorded Senate vote was killed at the last minute in a closed door meeting with Sen. Reid – by Baucus and Tester, which both senators hotly deny.

So, what’s the truth?

Jamming the Edwards bill into unrelated legislation is Capitol Hill back-room skullduggery at its slimiest. But passage, while doubtful, would have ended the even slimier skullduggery in the courts. No matter what, however, a record vote on this important issue would show voters what their senators really believe, not what they say.

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