Baucus, Tester push for Wyoming’s help returning wolves to state management
Senators: ‘Now is the time for Wyoming to be a leader,’ develop responsible management plan
(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today pushed the U.S. Interior Department to reengage in negotiations aimed at delisting gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West and returning wolves to state management in Montana.
Baucus and Tester urged Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to renew his efforts with the Governors of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to find a pragmatic solution that will once again allow wolf hunts in Montana.
“Recently Wyoming swore in a new Governor, Matt Mead,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Salazar. “His entrance into this debate provides an new opportunity to reengage. We are renewing our efforts in the 112th Congress, and we are writing today to urge you to do the same, with an eye toward rapid completion.”
“No one knows better how to manage wolves in Montana than Montanans,” Baucus said. “That’s why it’s my goal to tackle this problem any way I can, and put wolves back under Montana’s management.”
“We need to pull out all the stops to get wolves delisted and give their management back to the folks in Montana who know how to manage them best,” Tester said. “I’ll keep taking advantage of opportunity we have to the engage the key players because we need to resolve this issue now.”
Wolves were listed as endangered after a judge’s decision last August. The judge said that until Wyoming has a responsible wolf management plan, wolves cannot be removed from the list.
Baucus and Tester also touted Montana’s wolf management plan, which includes a controlled wolf hunt, as an example of ranchers and conservationists working together to manage wolf populations.
Tester, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, wrote the bipartisan Wolf Kill Bill, which provides a compensation fund for Montana ranchers who lose livestock to wolf predation. In the 111th Congress, Senators Baucus and Tester introduced the “Restoring Wildlife Management Act” which sought to return wolves to state management in Montana.
The full text of the Senators’ letter to Salazar appears below.
February 1, 2011
The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We write to you today as part of our ongoing efforts to return gray wolves to state management. During the 111th Congress, we worked with our colleagues in Idaho and Wyoming to seek a consensus solution to this issue, and we greatly appreciated your work to engage the Governors of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho in similar discussions. Recently Wyoming swore in a new Governor, Matt Mead. His entrance into this debate provides an new opportunity to reengage. We are renewing our efforts in the 112th Congress, and we are writing today to urge you to do the same, with an eye toward rapid completion.
We fully agree that the best way to sustain a viable population of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West while protecting livestock and elk herds is to allow states to manage wolves according to a responsible state management plan. Montana’s gray wolf management plan is scientifically validated, responsible and widely-supported. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has publicly agreed. The State of Montana is working diligently and in good faith to find solutions. In addition to the governors, legislators from all states are working together towards a pragmatic solution that balances the needs of ranchers, hunters and wildlife. These cooperative efforts deserve to be rewarded and matched in other states and at the federal level.
With that in mind, we are optimistic that a renewed effort to find a consensus path forward can be successful. The Governors of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming know that the best result for the Rocky Mountain West is to return wolf management to their hands. We urge you to begin discussions promptly with the three Governors with the goal of reaching a common solution that will return wolves to state management as quickly as possible. We believe that with renewed effort and a fresh perspective from the parties involved, we can resolve this issue and move forward.
Thank you for your consideration and diligent work to delist and restore the responsible management of gray wolves to the states.