Tester explains wolf de-listing measure in budget bill


by Dennis Bragg

WASHINGTON, DC- Montana Senator Jon Tester says the proposal to take wolves off the Endangered Species List is "what's right for Montana and the West."

Tester, and Republican Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho have inserted the language into the budget bill being hashed out in Congress. The measure would not only lift ESA protection for wolves in Montana and Idaho, but would bar the federal courts from overturning that position.

The legislation would help to implement the settlement agreement worked out last month between the states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and some, but not all, of the conservation groups that have been fighting with the government agencies over wolf protection. Wolf management would be turned over to the states with federal oversight.

Tester says the bi-partisan approach is best for coming up with a permanent solution to the wolf management problem.

"This wolf fix isn't about one party's agenda," said Tester in a prepared statement. "It's about what's right for the Montana and the West, which is why I've been working so hard to get this solution passed, and why it has support for both sides."

"It's high time for a predictable, practical law that finally delists Montana's wolves and returns their management to our state, for the sake of Montana jobs, our wildlife, our livestock and for the sake of the wolves themselves."

Simpson is chair of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and has also been trying to press for a wolf management issues since U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ordered the wolves be placed back on the Endangered Species List last summer.

Molloy is currently considering a pair of legal rulings concerning wolf management, one of which is a request for him to indicate whether he's agreeable to accepting the settlement. Several groups are urging him to reject the pact. His ruling on the ESA listing for wolves is currently before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.