Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin to delist most gray wolves in the lower 48 contiguous states from the protections afforded to them under the Endangered Species Act, and barring the public from seeking redress through our federal court system. The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund are urging the Senate to reject the legislation.
“This legislation is just the latest in a string of over 50 previous congressional attempts to undermine federal wolf protections. For a handful of legislators to not only remove federal protections for iconic wolves, but also undermine citizens’ rights to hold their government accountable is unacceptable,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “We urge the Senate to reject this bill, and listen to the majority of Americans who want to keep wolves protected."
This bill—H.R. 6784, the innocuously named “Manage our Wolves Act—encourages indefensible cruelty by trophy hunters and trappers seeking bragging rights and the opportunity to pose over a wolf corpse for a photo or to display animal body parts. Wolves are highly sentient beings who enjoy membership in extended families. They require cooperation to feed and secure pack members, particularly their pups and yearlings, who cannot survive if their parents and other family members are killed.
“It’s a travesty that a House bill introduced in September with just four cosponsors secures floor time to put these imperiled wolves in the crosshairs of trophy hunters and trappers,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “The American people have demanded that the Fish and Wildlife Service make a decision based upon scientific evidence that is open to a public comment process. Instead, 196 members of Congress passed a bill to deny ESA protections to gray wolves based upon political motivations.”
The latest cattle and sheep death (PDF) loss data from the U. S. Department of Agriculture show that in the eight states where gray wolves live, losses of sheep and cattle from wolves amounted to just 0.04 percent of their livestock inventories (PDF). Ten times more livestock die from disease, birthing problems, weather events and theft than from all predators* combined, and scientific studies have shown that indiscriminate killing of wolves and other large carnivores actually increases livestock losses.
*The USDA-APHIS data show that “predators” include native mammalian (e.g., wild cats, bears, coyotes and wolves) and avian (e.g., eagles and vultures) carnivores and domestic dogs.