The Fight To Restore Federal Protection For Gray Wolves Intensifies After Devastating Laws Allowing Their Slaughter Are Passed In Idaho & Montana

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Sierra Club recently petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal protection for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. This follows Idaho and Montana passing legislation aimed at drastically reducing wolf populations.

“Idaho and Montana’s legislative directives to kill wolves by nearly any means possible seriously endanger wolf populations in the West,” Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should immediately return Endangered Species Act protections to these wolves to halt the impending statewide slaughters.”

As previously reported by WAN, Idaho’s legislature recently passed Senate Bill 1211, allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of Idaho’s wolf population. It also allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, run down wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles, and trap year-round on private land across the state.

Similarly, Montana’s Senate Bill 314 could result in the slaughter of more than 85% of the state’s wolves. The law pushes the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to authorize hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves through baiting, trapping, and night hunts using night-vision scopes and lights.

In addition, Montana House Bill 224 allows trapping-license holders to snare multiple wolves during the state’s trapping season, while House Bill 225 expands the wolf-trapping season by four weeks.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot stand by while Idaho and Montana order the extermination of wolves to appease the livestock industry and trophy hunters,” stated Nicholas Arrivo, managing attorney for wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. “The agency must follow its obligation to reinstate federal protections, or risk wolves disappearing from the West again.”

Because the recent Idaho and Montana legislation calls for the near eradication of wolves, the petition explains that returning wolves to federal management is both legally required and necessary for the survival and recovery of these wolves.

“These extreme and unethical laws in Montana and Idaho aimed at killing 85-90% of the states’ wolf populations will not only reverse 50 years of wolf-recovery efforts, but will unravel entire ecosystems,” noted Bonnie Rice, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club.

In response to Idaho’s wolf-killing legislation, the Center called on the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Service to disqualify the state from receiving federal wildlife-management funding under the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Center also urged the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to show restraint in implementing the new wolf legislation or risk being disqualified for those federal funds.

In 2020, Idaho received more than $18 million in wildlife-management funding authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act; Montana received more than $24.4 million.

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