Washington, D.C.: Today Dr. Benishek joined over seventy of his colleagues in the House of Representatives in a bi-partisan letter to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging a full national delisting of the grey wolf.
“I continue to hear from Northern Michiganders that wolves threaten their pets and livestock. This once endangered species has recovered, which in itself is a great success story, but we must responsibly allow for the proper management of the population. I’m confident that the State of Michigan will continue to gather local input and use sound science to manage wolf populations for years to come and encourage U.S. Fish and Wildlife to do the same.”B
The letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe is in support of the June 2013 proposed rule to nationally delist the Gray Wolf as “endangered” or “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and in opposition to a proposal to list the Mexican wolf as a separate, endangered sub-species. This is the second letter, led by Chairman Hastings, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and more than five dozen other bipartisan and bicameral Members of Congress and Senators to Director Ashe calling for the delisting of the gray wolf. Despite issuing a proposed rule to delist the wolves five months ago, the Administration has yet to issue a final decision.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains in 2009 and in the Great Lake States in 2011. The current situation has created a confusing management and regulatory scheme that has left some states – including Washington, Oregon and Utah – in the unsustainable and random situation of having wolves listed on one side of a highway and delisted on the other.
“The statutory purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to recover species to the point where they are no longer considered ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened.’ The gray wolf is currently found in 46 countries around the world and has been placed in the classification of ‘least concern’ globally for risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission Wolf Specialist Group. This is a clear indication that this species is not endangered or threatened with extinction.” wrote the Members in the letter.
In the letter, Members also express opposition to the proposed provision to list the Mexican wolf as an endangered sub-species: “Since wolves were first provided protections under the ESA, uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations has resulted in devastating impacts on hunting and ranching and tragic damages to historically strong and healthy herds of moose, elk, big horn sheep and mule deer. This is why we believe it is critical that you reconsider your decision to list the Mexican wolf as a sub-species under ESA, which would have a severe impact on private landowners, including ranchers, in Arizona, New Mexico, and surrounding states. We believe that state governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations and are better able to meet the needs of local communities and wildlife populations.”