MISSOULA, Mont.–The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is calling for immediate Congressional review and reform of the Endangered Species Act following a judge’s decision yesterday to reinstate full federal protection for gray wolves.
The Aug. 5 ruling means state wildlife agencies no longer have authority to manage skyrocketing wolf populations–even in areas where wolf predation is driving cow elk, moose and elk calf survival rates below thresholds needed to sustain herds for the future.
RMEF says the judge has opened a door
for perhaps the greatest wildlife management disaster in America since the wanton destruction of bison herds over a century ago.
“When federal statutes and judges actually endorse the annihilation of big game herds, livestock, rural and sporting lifestyles–and possibly even compromise human safety–then clearly the Endangered Species Act as currently written has major flaws,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We have already begun contacting the Congressional delegations of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to ask for an immediate review of this travesty–and reform of the legislation that enabled it.”
Allen pointed out an irony, if not an outright error, in the decision issued by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy.
“Judge Molloy said wolves in the northern Rockies are a single population that cannot be segmented based on political boundaries. But he essentially did that very thing himself, because he considered only the wolf population within the U.S. There are 75,000-plus gray wolves across Canada, yet Judge Molloy stopped at the border and did not consider the entire Rocky Mountain population. The gray wolf is simply not an endangered species,” said Allen.
Animal rights groups who continue to litigate over wolves are “gaming the system for their own financial benefit,” he added, saying, “There are no elk in Iowa, but we are not suing folks to reintroduce them. This is simply a financial scam for the animal rights groups, and it’s all being paid for by the American taxpayer.”
Additionally, Allen urged the governors in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to begin the process of formally implementing “the 10(j) rule” as provided within federal law. For all species reintroductions classified as a “nonessential, experimental population,” as is the case with gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act, the 10(j) rule allows states more flexibility to mitigate for unacceptable impacts on big game populations, livestock and domestic animals.