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Senator Jack Reed : Endangered Species Act, and Wolves

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“When I think about the Endangered Species Act, I think of it as a tourniquet applied to an artery that is the lifeblood of Earth. ”  Norm Bishop

“This is the only Earth we have. If we ruin this one, there won’t be any other place to live.” Alyssa Grayson

Endangered Species Act

Today, November 4th, 2011, I met Tara Thornton, Northeast Coordinator of the Endangered Species Coalition outside the office of Senator Jack Reed, in Cranston, Rhode Island. With a  recent conference in Washington DC,  concerning cuts to conservation and environmental groups, Senator Reed has been a very busy Senator. U.S. Senator Jack Reed is Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment. Joining us for the meeting was State Representative Art Handy, Chairperson of House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. The meeting was for 9 am and the Senator was there right on time.  Tara opened the discussion and talked about the proposed cuts.  She was quick to let Senator Reed know that we appreciate his plan, which is at a much higher level than what is being proposed by the House.  While we know there will be cuts, we are hoping that Senator Reed’s plan can be passed pretty much intact.  She, along with Rep. Handy continued to press upon the Senator how very important this agenda is.  Senator Reed agreed and also hopes his plan is adopted as is, but also cautioned that compromises are often made to get the best plan possible.  The environment is at stake,  and Senator Reed did suggest strongly that we needed to engage Congressional members of the western states.  I feel that was some sound advice about what we can do to better the plans which are targeting the Endangered Species Act.  National Wolfwatcher Coalition is already discussing ways in which we can approach

Biologists Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston

the representatives of these western states, and many of us know that in some instances that will be a tall order. Noted biologists from Yellowstone National Park, Dr. Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston, recently returned from the DC Conference.  I heard from Nathan today and he stated that every program, with the exception of the obvious, being Medicare, Social Security, and Military, is on the chopping block.  He also told me that while cuts are very possible to the conservation programs across the country there was genuine support from senators across the aisle.  Nathan did mention that there is a real possibility that this session will end in a continuing resolution, and that feeling was confirmed by Senator Reed.


I took this opportunity to tell Senator Reed that we are very disappointed with the anti-wolf riders that have been attached to the past budget bill, and presented him with a list of  more reckless riders that are in the works for the coming Fall session.  Senator Reed listened intently as I told him about the wolf hunts,

Trophic Cascade: Why wolves make ecosystems better.

and how this was perpetuated by bad politics , ignoring pure, sound science.  Rep. Art Handy agreed and told the Senator we were ignoring the best science.  I further talked about the Trophic Cascade and the importance of the wolf in the ecosystem.  I drove home the fact that we were very unhappy with wolves being removed from protection in the manner that they were, by Congress.   This Congress session will undoubtedly be focused on the economy and jobs, and we all know that will take priority.  Senator Reed talked about jobs, and  as that was addressed by Tara and Art I needed to add that wolves create many jobs across the country, and if they were to make cuts to programs, how about cutting the money being spent to control and kill wolves.  Wolves are estimated to bring in over 35 million dollars into the Yellowstone National Park area yearly , and that amount is spread again  throughout the  region.  Wolf Conservation centers greatly depend on the strong attraction and interest people throughout the country have for this apex predator.  And in turn that allows those organizations to present educational classes which are so vitally important to the ecosystems.  You might say that wolves create this remarkable Trophic Cascade in the ecosystem, and in a way they also do the same for the economy at a controlled level.

Anti-Wolf Riders

There are several anti-wolf riders to contend with once again. HR-2584..Interior Budget Bill(Sec.113)  The two main anti-wolf riders  included here are from Lummis(WY) and Pearce(New Mexico).  Senator Reed stated that this Bill, the Interior Budget Bill,  is the one he is most concerned about.

I presented argument against Wyoming’s  Rep.Lummis’s plan to delist wolves with no judicial review. I asked how could  Senator Tester’s plan ,which basically removes the bighorn sheep from public lands; yes, public lands, so domesticated sheep can have a better grazing area, even be considered.. I spoke out loudly against Rep. Steve Pearce’s plan in New Mexico which would end funding for the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.  Senator Reed listened intently.  And while he is but one voice in the Senate, he is a powerful voice.  He has the respect and admiration of his colleagues, so we can hope that his influence can help curb any damage .  He also made good sense when he stated that adding riders also worked the other way as well, and they hope to strengthen the EPA in the same manner. But please remember Senator Reed is but one man, one senator out of 0ne hundred. There are no short cures for anticipated cuts across the board.  It is  sadly the sign of the times.

Other anti-wolf Bills

HR509  Amends the Endangered Species Act so it doesn’t apply to the Gray Wolf. Rehberg, MT

HR510  Amends the Endangered Species Act so gray wolves in MT and ID are no longer treated as endangered species, and for other purposes.. Rehberg, MT

HR1042  Amends the Endangered Species Act to require certain species to be considered extinct if there is not a substantial increase in that species population during the 15 year period beginning the date that species was considered endangered. Rep. Joe Baca

HR838 Prohibits treatment of  gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, to be treated as endangered species

S249  Senator Hatch of Utah’s bill to remove ALL gray wolves from protection permanently under the Endangered Species Act


Board member Diane Bentivegna put together a very impressive collection of facts contained in a binder that any biologist working in the field would be excited to use  It is certainly a complete educational set of documents containing message after message as to why wolves are critically vital to the ecosystem.  It also dispels the misinformation surrounding wolves, as data shows wolves are responsible for less than 1% of all livestock depredation. This binder, with all of the highly researched information, including a cd with extensive wolf information, may be our most significant contribution to this meeting.  I have no doubt that Senator Reed will remember what we said to him when the topic on wolves arises during the next Congressional Hearings this Fall.  He is but one man and cannot solely control the outcome of any vote, but we can only hope now that this day will add some hope for wolves when those Hearings commence.  As for the binder, it is already on its way to Washington, DC where Senator Reed’s highly regarded environmental staff person and scientist Kelly Knutsen will be receiving it.  I contacted Kelly to let him know it was on the way, and he stated he was anxious to read it.

As Senator Reed began to leave for another appointment, I asked him to wait for one minute, and he sat back down.  I handed to the Senator two letters.  One from Norm Bishop.  One from Alyssa Grayson.


Norman Bishop served for over 35 years in the Parks Service, and many of those years in Yellowstone National Park.  He was part of the team assembled to restore and reintroduce the gray wolf back into Yellowstone National Park and Idaho.  While retired, Norm is far from that.  He continues to be a strong and well respected advocate for wolves and the environment.  We are proud to call Norm our friend, and mentor.  Following  is part of what Norm related to Senator Reed:

Norm Bishop


“When I think about the Endangered Species Act, I think of it as a tourniquet applied to an artery that is the lifeblood of Earth. Our ecosystems that evolved over billions of years are undergoing change during this century at a rate 10,000 times that recorded anywhere in Earth’s history.”

“This September I took a voyage through the Canadian archipelago and the High Arctic. There, because of climate change we could navigate where, a few decades ago permanent pack ice would have blocked our route. A vast ecosystem that evolved with ice is collapsing…”

“Meanwhile, here in Montana, temperatures are rising twice as fast as those of the world at large, stressing mountains, trees, wildlife, and native fishes..”

“We can think of wolves as another indicator species, like miners’ canaries. Now, because wolves have been restored to the Northern Rockies, including Canada, we have begun to use modern research tools to comprehend the intricate interrelationships between wolves and other elements of the region. Dozen of studies demonstrate the beneficial effects of wolves on the conservation of biodiversity…”

Norm Bishop continued his letter requesting the Senator read Christine Eisenberg’s book, “The Wolf’s Tooth“. Norm stated in his letter, “The book is a stunning revelation of the keystone role of the predators such as wolves in maintaining healthy ecosystems…”

“The book tells the story of the development of the concepts by numerous investigators, like a detective novel, but it is all true. Much of the information about wolves has become available because wolves have been restored to the northern Rocky Mountains of the U.S., including Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, and in Banff National Park, Alberta.”


Alyssa Grayson

Alyssa is a member of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition.  You don’t realize she is but ten years of age as she makes very detailed presentations about wolves to the community, including students ranging from kindergarten to high school. Alyssa wrote a letter to Senator Reed and here are some excerpts from that letter…

Alyssa Grayson


” My name is Alyssa Grayson and I am a member of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, and I’m asking you to please not get rid of the Endangered Species Act. Every animal has a purpose in the ecosystem. People shouldn’t be allowed to decide whether animals should live or die.  Some people just hunt animals for sport, or for hatred. Hunting for food is different.”

“If the wolf hunts continue until March wolf pups and pregnant mothers could be killed. Honestly, I think all wolf hunts should be banned, especially aerial hunting.”

On Aldo Leopold :  “…He met two wolves named Lobo and Blanca. After killing these two wolves he realized what a mistake it was to kill a wolf. He also realized that it was never too late to fix a mistake. So now we have National Parks, and even the Boy Scouts.”

“When I grow up I would love to be able to see wildlife like you see it today.Wouldn’t it be great if the future generations could see the same fascinating animals that can bee seen on earth today? They could teach the future generations after that to take care of the world we share with animals! Just think about it-forests returning, animals thriving in their natural habitat! If they’re not protected the only place to see animals would be in zoos, in small enclosures…”

“This is the only Earth we have. If we ruin this one, there won’t be any other place to live.”


Alyssa Grayson  (next to her name she stamped a wolf paw print).


For the Endangered Species Act, all wildlife and wildlife habitat, wolves, and the future of our planet we hope that Congress does not ignore our plea.  It is one based on pure scientific evidence.  Listen to biologists such as Nathan and Linda.  Heed the words of a true historian, Norman Bishop, and pay attention to the innocent voice of Alyssa Grayson. The planet is in peril .  Senator Reed listened to our concerns today.  We can only hope that Congress does the same in the near future when they once again hold the fate of our environment in their hands. 

Dave Hornoff

National Wolfwatcher Coalition

Understand, Love, Protect


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