For the first time ever, the U.S. Congress has intervened to remove an animal from the Endangered Species List, attaching a rider to the federal budget that ends federal protection for gray wolves in the northern RockyMountains. The new provisions would instead put management of wolves in Montana and Idaho in the hands of state agencies, a shift that a federal judge had recently refused to approve, in part because it could increase the likelihood of commercial wolf hunts in the two states this fall. Environmental groups called passage of the budget rider a dangerous precedent that would allow Congress, rather than a science-based federal agency, to remove endangered species protections. “Now, anytime anybody has an issue with an endangered species, they are going to run to Congress and try to get the same treatment,” Michael T. Leahy, the Rocky Mountain region director for Defenders of Wildlife, told the New York Times. The budget compromise reached by Democrats and Republicans last weekend also cut the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 16 percent ”“ a reduction of about $1.6 billion.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife