The National Rifle Association today thanked Members of Congress for taking an important step in the right direction for wolf and game species conservation. The continuing resolution FY 2011, scheduled for votes later this week, includes a general provision that delists certain populations of wolves from the Endangered Species Act. Wolf populations in Montana and Idaho as well as portions of Utah, Oregon and Washington would be declared recovered by reinstating the 2009 ruling from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), paving the way for regulated wolf hunting seasons. The NRA would also like to thank the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, and Safari Club International for joining together in this important effort to place the states in charge of wolf conservation.
“With recovered populations of wolves across the Northwest, this Congressional action sends an important message to anti-hunting extremists -- politics and legal wrangling are not welcome when it comes to conservation,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. “Hunters are the true conservationists and wolves simply need to be managed through regulated hunting like so many other species. The partial delisting is a good start and we will be focused on a more comprehensive solution moving forward.”
Moose, elk and mule deer populations have been decimated in some areas where wolves are prevalent and the regulated hunting of wolves is long-overdue. The Congressional fix included in the continuing resolution would reinstate the 2009 science-based delisting ruling by FWS. This is an important first step in handing full control of wolf management to the states.
Wolf populations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes region are at least five times larger than the original federal recovery goals according to FWS. Although the general provision in the continuing resolution only deals with a part of the area where wolves are recovered, other states may still propose new wolf management plans. Wyoming officials are currently negotiating with FWS in hopes of getting a new wolf management plan approved. NRA will continue to push for the regulated hunting of wolves where populations have recovered.
America’s rich hunting and conservation heritage depends on wildlife experts and biologists to set guidelines for a particular species. These wildlife experts and biologists have been demanding the regulated hunting of wolves that would result once management responsibility is shifted back to state control. Successful wolf hunting seasons were conducted in Idaho and Montana last year only to be thwarted by anti-hunting extremists in court. “It is time for science and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation to prevail once more and we hope that Congress adopts this critical step forward in state-based wolf management,” concluded Cox.