Peterson, other lawmakers back wolf legislation; environmentalists object |

Peterson, other lawmakers back wolf legislation; environmentalists object

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce legislation that would return management of the Western Great Lakes gray wolf population to state control, but the Center for Biological Diversity announced its opposition to the legislation.

A December 2014 U.S. District Court decision reinstated gray wolves under the protection of the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota, Peterson noted. Because of this designation, the state is no longer able to manage gray wolves, leaving farmers and ranchers without a legal way to protect their livestock from wolves.

"This legislation returns gray wolf management to the state of Minnesota, where it belongs. Farmers should not have to choose between protecting their livelihood and complying with federal law. This bill will provide a legal avenue to balance safety, economic and gray wolf population management issues," Peterson said.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the federal judges overturned the decisions for failing to follow the best science and for prematurely turning management over to state fish and game agencies hostile to wolves. The legislation would reverse these court orders, wiping out Endangered Species Act protection for the approximately 4,000 wolves that live in the four states, the center explained.

"This is an ugly political ploy that will end with a lot of dead wolves and do serious damage to one of the most important endangered species success stories in America's history," said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

"The courts have repeatedly found that it's too soon to remove federal protections for gray wolves, but these politicians want to do it anyway," Hartl said. "This bill will subject some of the last remaining wolves in the lower 48 to state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce populations."

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–The Hagstrom Report