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Conservationists Worry How Wolf Legislation Could Affect Endangered Species Act

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A new twist to the debate over wolves in Montana:

Now wildlife agents want hunters to shoot wolves in areas where elk herds are shrinking. That’s just the latest move and it comes on the heels of a bill proposed by Democrat Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester to remove wolves from the list of endangered species list in Montana and Idaho.Conservationists think if this bill passes it could make it easier to bypass the protections of the Endangered Species Act, and that other animals could soon be in danger.

Bob Clark from the Sierra Club thinks if the proposed legislation passes it could take the teeth out of the Endangered Species Act. Clark says, “I do believe that it is dangerous to have congress legislating wildlife management goals and objectives and processes, rather than having that done through the agencies and through the law.

We have an Endangered Species Act and it’s been very successful and we should use it.”Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Vivaca Crowser says Montana has already proven it can manage its wolf population. She says the state’s already shown it by having a successful wolf hunt that doesn’t threaten the species.Crowser says, “It gives us flexibility to control predator and prey numbers and respond to day-to-day needs with wolf management, and be able to manage wolves like any other managed wildlife within the state.

“Clark worries new legislation would give power to lobbyists instead of the scientists who should be in charge of deciding which species should be protected. He concludes, “What it does is allow that door to be open for special interest to dictate which animals survive and which ones don’t in our country. That could get really scary down the road.”There’s already a proposal headed to Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks that would let hunters shoot 12 wolves south of Missoula, near Darby.

Wildlife managers say elk numbers have been cut from more than 2,000 to around 750 elk. If approved by FWP, the proposal would head to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


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