Just because an animal is a predator doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable. Take gray wolves – their population once thrived in the United States, but farmers nearly wiped them out of existence in the 20th century in an overly aggressive attempt to safeguard their livestock. Endangered Species Act protections have been critical in reviving gray wolf populations, but now the creatures face an even bigger threat: the U.S. Congress.
On Friday, the House of Representatives put together enough GOP votes to pass a bill to get rid of protections for gray wolves, despite large Democratic opposition. The legislation allows hunters and landowners to shoot/kill the wolves, putting them at risk of being decimated all over again.
To become law, the U.S. Senate would need to pass the same bill, which is why Care2 is petitioning the Senate to reject it.
Although Republicans are currently leading the charge on delisting gray wolves, the Obama administration played a critical role in this process, too, when the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) tried to eliminate protections back in 2014. Federal courts blocked this attempt because there wasn’t sufficient evidence to show that the wolves could continue to thrive without the protections.
Currently, Trump’s FWS is undergoing its own review to determine if gray wolves can withstand losing protections. (Given all of the admin’s previous stances, conservationists are pretty confident they know which conclusion it will reach.) In that sense, this bill by House Republicans is premature, but it would minimize the judicial branch’s ability to intervene anyway.
As it stands, there are an estimated 5,000 gray wolves living in the contiguous United States – their total population used to be more than ten times that. If it becomes open season on the wolves, the recovery that’s been established could quickly be out the window. That said, even if the law passes at a federal level, individual states could choose to institute their own policies for killing/not killing the gray wolves.
MTV reality star turned congressman Republican Rep. Sean Duffy hailed the decision to let farmers rather than “Washington bureaucrats” take control of safeguarding their livestock. His Democratic colleague Rep. Peter DeFazio doesn’t see it the same way. “A lot of this is based on some sort of gut-level historic fear or hatred of predators that has been passed down from generation to generation,” DeFazio said. “We can have a healthy wolf population and you can still do good husbandry for cattle.”
Just because the House moved forward with the plan doesn’t mean the Senate has to follow suit. With this petition, we’re asking Lisa Murkowski, the Senate chair of the Energy and Natural Resources committee, to help squash this vote in favor of ensuring that gray wolves aren’t pushed to the brink of extinction all over again.
This article was first published by Care2.com on 18 Nov 2018.
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