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Duffy, Newhouse Legislation to Delist the Gray Wolf Approved by House

November 16, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on a vote of 196-180, the House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) to return management of gray wolves to state control. Congressman Newhouse issued the following statement:

“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 Newhouse. “States are best-equipped to effectively manage gray wolves and respond to the needs of the 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. I urge prompt consideration in the Senate.”

“If you live in Wisconsin, especially northern Wisconsin, it might be necessary for us to actually manage this population because it's good for the environment,” said Congressman Duffy. “It's good for the wolves. It's good for the cattle. It's actually really good for our deer population. And so I just think this just makes common sense. Frankly, I believe that our states are far more in tuned in understanding the ecosystem of their state than Bureaucrats in Washington.”

For Congressman Duffy’s complete floor remarks today, click here.

Click here to watch remarks delivered on the House floor by Congressman Newhouse

Transcript of Congressman Newhouse’s remarks: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the Rules Committee met and reported a rule, House Resolution 1142, providing for further consideration of H.R. 6784, the Manage our Wolves Act. The rule provides for consideration of the legislation under a closed rule.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have co-introduced the underlying legislation considered in this rule today, H.R. 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act, to return management of the gray wolf species to the states. The states are best-equipped to provide more effective and accountable management that responds to the needs of the ecosystem, other species, as well as local communities.

On June 13, 2013, under the Obama Administration, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would have removed the gray wolf from the “List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.” This determination was made after Fish & Wildlife evaluated the classification status of gray wolves currently listed in the contiguous United States under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and found, and I quote, the “best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the currently listed entity is not a valid species under the Act.”

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Endangered Species Act is to recover species to the point where they are no longer considered "endangered" or "threatened." The gray wolf is currently found in nearly fifty countries around the world and has been placed in the classification of "least concern” for risk of extinction by the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation Nature.

Some of my colleagues have asked, ‘well, if Fish & Wildlife have proposed to delist the species, why haven’t they done so?’ That is a completely fair and reasonable question. Unfortunately, it is due to fringe environmentalist efforts that any action from moving forward under the law has been stalled. So long as the courts are abused to prevent the proper adjudication of the law, we will not see progress made. And it is because of this exploitation of the law that communities like those in Central Washington suffer the consequences.

Mr. Speaker, in my home state, the great State of Washington, the gray wolf is not listed in just the eastern third of the state, forcing U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to rely on an arbitrary political boundary when delineating and managing a species. I am sorry to share with you Mr. Speaker that—as it turns out— surprisingly wolves don’t know boundaries or borders. The arbitrary nature of this current status of the law is broken, and it is impairing the ability of fish and wildlife managers on the ground to properly manage the species as well as its ecosystem, including the harm it poses on other indigenous species.

Mr. Speaker, this is why Congress as a co-equal branch, must act. This legislation directs the U.S. Department of the Interior to follow through with the proposed rule and delist the gray wolf from the list of endangered species. We have a responsibility to protect the incredibly diverse species both in Washington State and across the country. These efforts to protect our wildlife species must be based on sound science and an open, transparent process. Unfortunately, that is far from the case when it comes to the process dictating endangered species policies, particularly in this case of the gray wolf.

For years now, Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife has asked the federal government to delist the gray wolf and provide relief from the burdensome, broken process dictating species management. I have received letters from the Director of the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife, one in 2015 and one earlier this year, and would ask unanimous consent for them to be entered into the record.

In them, the letters read, and I quote: “Dear Congressman Newhouse, The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife appreciates your continued assistance to encourage the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the delisting of the gray wolf and remove it from federal protection under the Endangered Species List.” … It continues, “In 2008, the first wolf pack was documented in Washington State. Today we have 22 known packs. During this time, the state’s wolf population has increased by an average of more than 30 percent per year.” … “As demonstrated with the current rate of recovery, the Department is well suited to facilitate the recovery and management of wolves across the state.” … “Under the current federal designation and management, we cannot fully implement our plan in the western two-thirds of the state. To ensure ongoing success in wolf recovery, the federal listing needs to keep pace with the on-the-ground recovery status and allow the state to fully implement its management plan. Therefore, I support your efforts to advance the delisting of wolves and return management to the state,” end quote.

Mr. Speaker, to close, I would like to just say that as a farmer and life-long resident of Central Washington state, I consider myself a conservationist and steward of our rich natural heritage—and that includes our incredible wildlife. State governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage gray wolf populations and are better able to meet the needs of local communities, ranchers, livestock, wildlife populations, and ecosystems. I encourage my colleagues to support the rule and the underlying legislation.

Background:

Management of these gray wolves was transferred from the state to the federal level following two 2014 U.S. District Court decisions that reinstated gray wolves under the protections of the Endangered Species Act. These designations leave farmers and ranchers in those states without a legal avenue to protect their livestock from wolves.

Click HERE to read H.R. 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act.

Click HERE and HERE to read the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2015 and 2018 letters requesting the federal delisting of the gray wolf.