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Newhouse, Peterson Lead Bipartisan Letter to Support ESA Delisting of Gray Wolf

May 28, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) led a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson expressing strong support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s proposed rule to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the lower 48 United States. The letter was signed by 34 bipartisan Members of Congress and will be submitted as an official public comment in the Federal Register. The public comment submission period deadline is July 15, 2019. Those wishing to submit public comments can do so here.

“The gray wolf should be considered a success story of the Endangered Species Act,” said Newhouse. “Federally delisting the gray wolf will allow Washington state to implement the comprehensive wolf management plan that will give relief to farmers, ranchers, and communities that are affected by growing wolf populations. It is time to listen to the experts and scientists who have determined the gray wolf is no longer endangered or threatened and give power back to the states.”

“The delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is something I’ve been working on for a long time,” said Peterson. “Scientific research clearly shows that the gray wolf population in this country has recovered, especially in the state of Minnesota. State agencies are better equipped to manage wolf populations and should have been doing so years ago.”

You can read the full text of the letter here and below:

Dear Secretary Bernhardt and Principal Deputy Director Everson:

We write to express our strong support for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) proposed rule, published March 15, 2019, titled “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” (Docket No. FWS–HQ–ES–2018–0097).  We urge you to move forward with the implementation of this proposed rule in an expeditious manner.

We fully understand and support the statutory purpose and intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  When the gray wolf was reclassified as “endangered” in 1978, the best available science was used to demonstrate the species was at risk for extinction.  Now, we must use the best available science to delist the gray wolf and allow states to manage wolf populations at the local level.

Gray wolves can now be found across the United States and in nearly fifty countries around the world.  We should acknowledge the scientific findings of USFWS and celebrate their recovery.  State and local governments, tribes, and other stakeholders are best suited to develop effective, local management plans for gray wolf populations.  We should be empowering them to do so – not hindering them with unscientific, burdensome federal regulations.

In 2013, USFWS’ review found gray wolf recovery goals had been achieved and proposed a rule to remove them from the endangered list.  After objections from environmental groups, the effort to delist the species based on scientific evidence stalled and states were left with growing gray wolf populations that threaten agriculture and livestock, hunting and recreation, and other wildlife.  We cannot let scientific findings fall victim to politically-motivated attacks. As the proposed rule demonstrates, the gray wolf is a success story of the ESA.   

We understand that we have the responsibility to protect species across the country – including the gray wolf – and that these efforts to protect wildlife should be based on sound science and an open, transparent process.  For these reasons, we support the proposed rule to delist the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and urge you to finalize this proposed rule swiftly.

Sincerely,

The letter was signed by Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Ken Buck (R-CO), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Steve King (R-IA), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Michael K. Simpson (R-ID), Scott R. Tipton (R-CO), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Greg Walden (R-OR), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Ron Kind (D-WI), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), James Comer (R-KY), Bill Flores (R-TX), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), and Don Young (R-AK).

The letter is supported by the Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and American Sheep Industry Association.

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.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposed a rule in the Federal Register on March 15, 2019 to remove the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The best available scientific and commercial information indicates the gray wolf does not meet the definitions of a threatened or endangered species.

In the 115th Congress, Newhouse and Peterson introduced H.R. 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act, which passed the House on November 16, 2018.

In Washington, the gray wolf is only listed as endangered in two-thirds of the state. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has publicly supported changing the federal designation in order to fully implement their local management plan. 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.