A pair of Eastside Republicans today introduced a bill in Congress to federally delist wolves in the Northwest and put the species fully under state control.
Called the Pacific Northwest Gray Wolf Management Act of 2015, Rep. Dan Newhouse of Central Washington and Rep. Greg Walden of Central and Eastern Oregon’s lone district aim to remove Canis lupus from ESA protections across the western two-thirds of the Evergreen and Beaver States.
In 2012, wolves in the eastern thirds of both states were Congressionally delisted.
“This is a commonsense bill that would allow states to provide a more flexible management program and move forward with the implementation of the gray wolf delisting efforts, which are long overdue,” said Rep. Newhouse in a press release. “States are fully qualified to manage gray wolf populations responsibly and are better equipped to meet the needs of local communities, ranchers, livestock, and wildlife populations. Delisting the gray wolf under ESA would allow state wildlife officials to manage wolf populations more effectively.”
It would also affect Utah wolves.
A pro-wolf group in Western Washington called the move a “step in the wrong direction for wolf recovery in the region.”
“Conservation Northwest supports delisting wolves and other Endangered species when the best available science shows the population has reached a level where local recovery can be sustained without federal ESA protections,” said the Bellingham organization’s Chase Gunnell. “With only a dozen confirmed wolves in Washington’s Cascades and seven in the Oregon Cascades, we’re simply not there yet. Federal ESA protections should remain in place in the western portions of Washington and Oregon, including the Cascade Mountains, until our region’s wolf numbers are much closer to scientifically-sound recovery benchmarks.”
In 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed delisting wolves across all of Oregon and Washington, but has yet to issue a final decision.
WDFW has supported that, but a spokesman this afternoon said that the agency had not seen Rep. Newhouse’s bill.