Sunday, October 3, 2010

Now This Is Hitting Close To Home Folks - The Graywolf? Your Neighbor?

Western lawmakers turn sights on endangered wolves- gray wolves turn sights on endangered lawmakers

Oct 03 2010

MATTHEW BROWN - AP Writer w/editorial assistance from the Graywolf

(AP Photo/Yellowstone National Park)

In this Feb. 16, 2006 photo provided by Yellowstone National Park, a gray wolf (my brother?) is seen near Blacktail Pond in Yellowstone National Park in Park County, Wyo. Lawmakers are proposing a rewrite of the Endangered Species Act that would lift protections for wolves first enacted in 1974. Critics say the move would effectively gut one of the nation's premiere environmental laws and allow for the unchecked killing of wolves across the West, perhaps even as far south as North Texas.

BILLINGS, Mont. — Two decades after the federal government spent a half-million dollars to study the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Northern Rockies, lawmakers are playing a two-faced game and winning political points back home by clamping down on me and my brothers and sisters. This is a sneaky betrayal.

These airheads want to bypass the Endangered Species Act and lift protections for today's booming wolf population. That includes me and my friends and relatives.

Critics say the move would undercut one of the nation's premiere environmental laws and allow for the unchecked killing of wolves across the West and even down in Texas, home of the legendary Graywolf.

Bitterness against the iconic predator is flaring as livestock killings increase and some big game herds dwindle. The legislators want to be able to go big game hunting, to show off their trophy kills back in Washington. Sick, sick, sick. We only kill to eat, said a graywolf spokeswolf.

With state efforts to knock back the predators' expansion stalled in court, thank goodness, dumb, bloodthirsty senators from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah want to strip wolves of their endangered status by force just like their grandfathers did to the Indians.

"When they brought wolves to Idaho, the Legislature voted against it, the governor didn't want it and the Congressional delegation didn't want it," said Idaho Republican Sen. James Risch. "We didn't want them in the first place. But we are prepared to deal with them as we see fit." What a creep is this Risch dolt. "Wait until he wants to go hiking in the Rockies with his kids. We are prepared to deal with him, too," the Graywolf said in an interview from Ft. Worth.

Following the reintroduction study, 66 wolves were brought from Canada to Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. The population hit the original recovery benchmark of 300 animals a decade ago, yet they remain officially endangered. 400 million armed people and they feel threatened by 1,700 unarmed gray wolves? Give us a break for Crissake.

At least 1,700 wolves now roam parts of six states. Hallelujah!

Wildlife advocates warn the attempt to strong-arm a public hunt through Congressional action would set a dangerous precedent for other endangered species _ and unravel a wolf recovery program that has cost $30 million to date. Wolves are worth 1,000 times that price.

"It's comparable to throwing an individual species off of Noah's ark," said Doug Honnold, a Montana attorney representing groups that won an Aug. 5 court ruling that returned wolves to the endangered list. Hear, hear. That's telling it Doug.

No state has proposed getting rid of wolves entirely, despite calls to do so by individual, bloodthirsty ranchers. Montana and Idaho have plans to reduce their populations by 15 percent and about 40 percent, respectively. Wolves may develop their own plan to reduce the human population in those states by about 50%.

Those states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appealed the August ruling last week. A final ruling could take years.

There also are proposals to hold wolf hunts with the animals still listed as endangered. That idea has gotten a cool reception from federal wildlife officials.

State officials say intervention by Congress may be the only viable option remaining.

Environmentalists and the entire gray wolf population have vowed to lobby hard against several wolf bills introduced in the past two weeks. And the measures face another hurdle: Lawmakers are split along party lines over which states should be allowed to hunt wolves.

A measure introduced by Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, Montana Democrats, would leave wolves endangered in Wyoming, which has a shoot-on-sight law for wolves across most of the state.

That Wyoming law played a pivotal role in the August court ruling and another in 2008 that reversed a previous attempt to take wolves off the endangered list.

"If Wyoming doesn't want to put forward a management plan that works, that's Wyoming's fault," Baucus said. Tester said Wyoming "hasn't wanted to play" and suggested that Montana could not wait for its southern neighbor to change its mind given ongoing livestock losses from wolf attacks.

Republicans have sponsored more sweeping measures that would delist wolves across the lower 48 states, including Wyoming. Idaho's delegation has yet another bill, described as a fallback plan, that includes only that state and Montana. Kick them out of the Union has been the suggestion of several wolf packs.

Senators from both parties and across the region met last week in part to resolve the Wyoming issue. But a common front has yet to emerge.

Wolves were off the endangered list for over a year before the latest court ruling. In that time, hunters in Montana and Idaho ruthlessly slaughtered 260 of the noble creatures. It was like Sara Palin moved to Montana.

Environmentalists decried the shootings as unprecedented for a species just off the endangered list. Among the wolves killed were members of a well-known Yellowstone National Park pack that crossed onto Montana land. The survivors of the massacre have been organizing a boycott of Montana as a state. "Stay out of Montana" signs have sprung up along highways leading into the state, hurting the dumb tourist trade on which Montana's economy relies.

A count at the end of 2009 showed the region's wolf population rose slightly last year despite the hunts. Wildlife officials heralded the increase as proof the states could show restraint. WTF? Keeping the gray wolf population in virtual check mate is showing restraint?

Even without public hunting, government wildlife agents regularly retaliate against wolves that attack livestock, typically by shooting them from aircraft, a rotten practice they got from Sara Palin.

About 270 were shot last year under the program and more than 1,300 have been killed since Congress' initial involvement.

"Government agents killing wolves with shotguns from helicopters _ that's not the model of conservation we had in mind," said Carolyn Sime, the head of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' wolf program.

"It took an act of Congress to direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study reintroduction. Maybe that's fitting as a way to resolve this," she said.


Ben Neary contributed to this story from Cheyenne, Wyo.

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