Republican trio expects delisting support from Senate
By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
Two Idaho representatives have joined Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., in introducing legislation to permanently return wolf management authority to their states.
HR510, the Idaho and Montana Wolf Management Act of 2011, would remove wolves from the endangered species list and give Idaho and Montana exclusive jurisdiction over managing wolves within their borders. It was introduced Jan. 26 by Rehberg and U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Raúl Labrador, who are also Republicans.
The legislation is in response to frustration over U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's ruling in August that reinstated federal protection for wolves under the Endangered Species Act, according to the representatives.
"It is imperative that we find a long-term solution to the problem of wolf management as soon as possible, and I am hopeful that with a new Republican majority, we will be able to take this bill up quickly," Simpson said.
He couldn't say how soon that might be.
In recent months, Simpson and Rehberg have solicited comments from constituents.
"This input is reflected in this bill," Simpson said.
"I heard from thousands of Montanans, and folks get it," Rehburg said in a press release. "They know that states are better at managing our own local wildlife than the federal government thousands of miles away."
The federal government has no business getting involved, he said.
Simpson said he believes senators would support the legislation, as a number of proposals to delist wolves and return management to states were introduced last session.
Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both of Idaho, are again co-sponsors of a bill initially introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, last fall that would delist wolves nationally. They also had introduced a bill in the last session returning management to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
"We'll be watching to see how the House bill progresses on that side," Crapo press secretary Lindsay Nothern said.
Simpson said the bill would better hold up to challenges to state management and Interior Department decisions on the wolves.
"I think that because the bill would legislatively delist wolves, it would preclude a lawsuit similar to the one decided by Judge Molloy this summer," he said.
Rehberg also introduced similar legislation to delist wolves nationally. Simpson and Labrador, along with 13 other representatives, including Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., co-sponsored that bill.
Simpson is the new chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which oversees funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service. He has already promised closer oversight of agencies under the subcommittee's authority.