The US House of Representatives earlier today voted to delist gray wolves in the rest of the Lower 48 by a 196 to 180 margin.
HR 6784, known as the Manage our Wolves Act and co-sponsored by two Eastern Washington Republicans, now heads to the US Senate.
“The recovery of the gray wolf is a success story for the Endangered Species Act, and the best available science must determine whether species remain listed,” said Congressman Dan Newhouse of the Yakima Valley in a press release. “States are best-equipped to effectively manage gray wolves and respond to the needs of ecosystem and local communities. I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation to return management of the gray wolf species to the states, as requested by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and as proposed by the Obama administration, has been approved by the House.”
Cosponsor and Spokane-area Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers touched on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal in her remarks on the floor of the House this morning.
“In the fall of 2013, the Obama Administration announced that the gray wolf is recovered. President Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe stated, ‘[the gray wolf] is no longer endangered or threatened with extinction…as we propose to remove ESA protections, states like Washington and Oregon are managing expanding populations under protective state laws.’ Unfortunately, the gray wolf was not delisted,” she said in a press release.
Up until this past spring, little apparent work was being done by USFWS on the delisting, but the process begin again with a push to get a determination out by the end of 2018.
Today’s vote probably also recognizes the coming changing politics in Congress’s lower chamber as Democrats take over in January and the odds of a bill like this passing decrease, though a sea lion management bill did get bipartisan support in clearing the House.
Conservation Northwest called the wolf bill “too broad and “unprecedented,” but in 2011 Congress also voted to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana, and the eastern two-thirds of Washington and Oregon through a budget rider.
If this bill were to pass Congress and be signed into law, it would provide WDFW with more flexibility for managing wolves in Central and Western Washington, but the species would remain listed under the state’s version of the Endangered Species Act.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post misreported progress of a sea lion bill through the House.