A bipartisan group of 72 Members of Congress have written to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to urge that the Agency delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the Continental United States. The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John Barrasso (R-WY), and Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
In the letter, the Members of Congress write that "[w]olves are not an endangered species and do not merit federal protections. The full delisting of the species and the return of the management of wolf populations to State governments is long overdue. As you know, State governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations and are able to meet both the needs of local communities and wildlife populations."
The lawmakers added that an unmanaged wolf population poses a threat to the communities and surrounding livestock and indigenous wildlife, but that "currently State wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved." They add that State wildlife managers "need to be able to respond to the needs of their native wildlife without being burdened by the impediments of the federal bureaucracy created by the ESA."
In addition to Hatch and Barrasso, Senators signing the letter were Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), James Risch (R-ID), John Thune (R-ND), and David Vitter (R-LA).
Members of the House signing the letter in addition to Lummis and Hastings were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Howard Coble (R-NC), Tom Cole (R-OK), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steven Daines (R-MT), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Sam Graves (R-MO), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Steve King (R-IA), John Kline (R-MN), Doug Lamalfa (R-CA), Bob Latta (R-OH), Blayne Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Candice Miller (R-MI), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), Steve Palazzo (R-MS), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Jim Renacci (R-OH), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Steve Scalise (R-LA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Austin Scott (R-GA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Marlin Stutzman (R-TX), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Tim Walz (D-MN), Randy Weber (R-TX), Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Don Young (R-AK).
The full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Dan Ashe
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Director Ashe:
We understand the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is in the process of reviewing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery status of the gray wolf in the lower 48 States and is preparing to announce the delisting of the species. We support the nationwide delisting of wolves and urge you to move as quickly as possible on making this a reality. We were supportive of the USFWS decision in 2009 when most wolves were delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains, again in 2011 when wolves in the Great Lake States were delisted, and the 2012 delisting in Wyoming. It is unfortunate that these decisions were met with lawsuits from environmental activists.
Wolves are not an endangered species and do not merit federal protections. The full delisting of the species and the return of the management of wolf populations to State governments is long overdue. As you know, State governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations and are able to meet both the needs of local communities and wildlife populations.
Unmanaged wolves are devastating to livestock and indigenous wildlife. Currently State wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved. They need to be able to respond to the needs of their native wildlife without being burdened by the impediments of the federal bureaucracy created by the ESA. During the four decades that wolves have had ESA protections, there has been an uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations resulting in devastating impacts on hunting and ranching in America as well as tragic damages to historically strong and healthy herds of moose, elk, big horn sheep, and mule deer.
As you consider these much needed changes to federal protections with regard to the gray wolf, we urge you to expand the delisting of the species to all of the lower 48 states. It is critical that the states be given the ability to properly manage all of the species within their boundaries.
Full letter available in PDF format below: