Wolf Agreement Reached in Northern Rocky Mountains
Whether it takes is anyone’s guess. There have been final agreements before.
Friday March 18, 2011
"For too long, wolf management in this country has been caught up in controversy and litigation instead of rooted in science, where it belongs. This proposed settlement provides a path forward,"said Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes.
recent developments below the fold. I've labeled apposing sides as pro or anti wildlife management. I believe calling any group of wildlife biologists animal haters or anti a particular species would be misleading. You'd have to assume most interested parties like wild animals. The disagreement seems to stem from wether or not to manage them or even not wether but how.
Some recent events leading to the settlement.
Both house and senate budget bills include efforts to delist the gray wolf from the endangered species act, and the senators from the affected states include a fair number of Democrats especially if you include the entire upper central and western US. The congressional version would delist the species everywhere, the senate version only in Idaho and Montana, and roughly the senate version is what’s being suggested.
There is also a little noticed obscure rule change afoot to put a moratorium on payments under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). That act gives funding to groups who successfully litigate against the government, it pays for attorney's fees. So all of the current environmental groups who seemingly do nothing but bring suit might be out of a paycheck. The amount of those payments are estimated to be in the range of $37 million, a total of 1,500 suits by the same 10 organisations. The flip side is that the act is a source of funds for people of modest means who have been wronged by the government.
The third and perhaps most impending development is the retirement of Judge Malloy in August. Judge Malloy is the single judge to rule in all the wolf cases, though not exactly known as a tree hugger, the judge likes to arbitrarily rule against the US government. Traditionally his successor would be recommended by the US senator of the state (Montana) and in this case that means Democratic Senator Testor who is up for a contested election in 2012. Both Testor and his opponent the sole congressman of Montana, Representative Rheburg, are in a contest to see who can be the most convincingly pro wildlife management (anti-wolf).
There are still obstacles. Not all of the litigious anti wildlife management groups have agreed to the agreement. What the government and the 10 groups that are in agreement want, is for Judge Malloy to reverse an earlier decision that returned the wolf to protection under a technicality. Whether the judge will or not is as unpredictable as the judge himself, he could just as easily say”you all created this mess and tied up my courtroom for months, now deal with it”. Also 4 of the anti wildlife management groups haven’t signed on and it’s unknown if they will successfully block the agreement.
And..... Wyoming is not a part of any delisting but last week the US government dropped it’s objections to the state’s wolf plan and both the state and the feds are in negotiations regarding Wyoming’s status. Undoubtedly there are pro hunting environmental groups apposed to the deal, but I don’t know of any. As of now Safari Club, the NRA and the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus are in favor, the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation hasn’t made a statement yet.
It was widely believed last year when the anti wildlife management groups reversed the lifting of ESA designation that they had over reached. This is the fallout.
Populations have exceeded the goal for delisting by a factor of five, the original number of 300 wolves was reached many years ago and current estimates are in the range of 1,600. As it stood the DOJ as well as interior were appealing a ruling that was fairly obviously not scientific.
There are simply too many western legislators for whom this single issue is a big deal, in the next few weeks it’s widely believed the two parties will reach a budget compromise, if a deal on wolves isn’t reached before then, wolves will be part of the compromise. Most parties would rather a deal they agree to, than an unknown, possibly worse, deal.
Feel free to add tags or repost as desired. I'll respond in comments as much as possible but I'm getting two little kids ready for school and bringing them there after which I too am going to work.
Found an interesting web site yesterday.