Idaho senators fail in bid to remove federal protection for wolves.

The wolf bills are probably dead

I’ve rewritten this post as it appears that there is still a chance for a bill to move in the Senate.

The bill that would have removed wolves from the Endangered Species Act has failed and the bill which would have removed protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana introduced by Max Baucus of Montana was not successfully attached to the appropriations bill.

With so much else going on in Washington DC it appears that none of the bills to remove protections from wolves will be successful this congress but there is still a slight chance that the Baucus/Tester bill could move during the lame duck session of congress.

There is another dynamic here to take into consideration, the Baucus/Tester bill, which would require that Idaho and Montana maintain a number of wolves higher than the minimum of 10-15 packs, is opposed by many sportsman’s groups including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation because it gives wolves even some protection. If this bill is passed it would be considered by some as a win for Tester who is likely to face a very tough reelection battle in 2012. With that, it seems likely that Republicans will try to block it since their whole strategy of late has been to block anything that might benefit Democrats.

That being said, the Baucus/Tester Bill would still set a very bad precedent for the Endangered Species Act. It would set a precedent that would allow delisting of any species if it somehow becomes inconvenient for the powers that be or those who kick and scream the most.

Idaho senators fail in bid to remove federal protection for wolves.
Dan Popkey – Idaho Statesman

State of the species
Anti-wolf bills unlikely to pass before year’s end

By KATHERINE WUTZ – Idaho Mountain Express

Utah bill to delist wolves fails in Senate.
By Laura Lundquist – Magic Valley Times-News



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  1. Mike Avatar

    Note to Idaho and Montana Senators:

    You are out of the mainstream.

  2. JimT Avatar

    Two Bills left to go. Word from DC is that since the Omnibus Bill got pulled, it is very unlikely anything could be attached to the CR they need to pass before adjourning. But, no one is taking it for granted, so the folks back there are working very hard to keep any last minute moves from happening. Call your Senators..tell them to kill the remaining bills and we will take up the fight in February…

  3. JimT Avatar

    Word came that just this morning, Testor tried to sneak a bill in that was the worst yet; I am sure versions of it will appear shortly. And it was the Defenders of Wildlife staff that led the charge to put a hold on it, no small feat since most of the Senators had gone home, and some previous supporters of the ESA, who shall remain nameless for now, became turncoats and agreed to let it go forward. I figured someone would try something like this,and thank the stars DOW did too.

    It isn’t over by any means, so enjoy the vacation, because it will be a bumpy ride for wolf advocates in the new Senate.

    1. Phil Avatar

      This new bill that they tried to sneak through just further illustrates the desperate measures of the senators in trying to delist Wolves.

      1. Save bears Avatar

        Once the new congress is sworn in, I don’t think it will be as desperate as you think, there are a lot of them jumping on the band wagon to gut the ESA..

      2. JB Avatar

        Save bears: As opposition to wolves has crossed party lines, so has support for wolf recovery. I find this to be a hopeful sign.

        “…not all Republicans support delisting. On Thursday, in anticipation of the rush to action, the Republicans for Environmental Protection issued a statement saying it was too soon to delist wolves or grizzly bears, which “face irrational animosity from officials in those (Rocky Mountain) states.”

    2. Jerry Black Avatar
      Jerry Black

      Jim T
      I rarely praise Defenders as you’ve noticed, but I certainly give them credit and thank them for this.
      This reveals how desperate Tester is to boost his image here in Montana, especially now that his “forest and jobs” bill, which was opposed by over 50 environmental groups has been dropped.

      1. Jerry Black Avatar
        Jerry Black

        Jim T……Hopefully, the “turncoats” will be revealed shortly.

  4. Phil Avatar

    Sabe bears: I don’t know what the outcome will be in Congress’s decision when the Republicans take over, but the “desperation” move I have mentioned is due to the 5 previous proposals, and the new one that was snuck in. With 5 proposals, now 6, you don’t think this was in a desperate move to hopefully have 1 approved?

    1. Save bears Avatar


      After all of these years, I don’t find much to be desperate, I do however find them very calculating but as sneaky as they can be, I don’t see desperation…

  5. JimT Avatar

    As long as we have some Senators willing to go to the mattresses and use Senate procedures to block legislation ala the Republicans these past two years, we can fight it off. We need to explain to folks who are not necessarily wolf folks that this will affect the future of the ESA for all candidate species and delisting decisions, not just wolves.

    I hope given the extreme wording of these bills, WM now believes that this is no Chicken Little concern…

    1. Phil Avatar

      Jim T: I see what you are saying, and hope that is the case when the new members take Congress.

    2. WM Avatar


      The dynamics of the debate have changed very quickly. Those who believed the Tester/Baucus was the least evil of the wolf delisting bills and would provide some protection above the bare minimums of the FWS recovery plan (reasonably well thought out in 2 of the respective state implementation plans), send a stern message to the ID and WY legislatures and seek out the middle ground, are disappointed it didn’t pass. {See, we really don’t know what Judge Molloy will do if and when he gets the NRM suit after a 9th Circuit ruling. The FWS plan miniumums are still the floor, with the added genetic connectivity that he implied by his first ruling. If all three states come back to the table with approved plans + assume management status this thing goes forward, again EVEN IF the 9th agrees with Molloy. That, in my mind is a risk that some here do not appreciate.}

      I am guessing JB might even consider my statement reasonable, but he can weigh in for himself.

      The sky has not fallen in the 111th Congress. The question is whether it will in the 112th in January, as tension builds (like tectonic plate about ready to move in an earthquake). I still believe, if any legislation gets legs, it will likely be a moderate change, and unlikely to be of such magnitude to be a major precident for even more changes to the ESA.

      Utah and ID proposals are just too far out there. Unless, however, this threat of suit by CBD over a national wolf recovery plan gets some otherwise silent states a bit nervous. There will be political horse-trading behind the scenes, no doubt.

      It is a little early to tell, but my prediction is still no falling sky. So, you can probably keep the Chicken Little suit in the closet a little longer, Jim.

      1. JB Avatar

        “I am guessing JB might even consider my statement reasonable, but he can weigh in for himself.”

        Yes, well other than implying that I am an extremist, I do think your position is reasonable. As I noted in multiple places on the the Tester-Baucus thread, with a few tweaks, that legislation could have fixed the problem of a lack of regulatory oversight. Again, “compromise” occurs when neither side gets exactly what it wants and I think it is reasonable to characterize that bill as a compromise (even if there are aspects that I didn’t like).

        I’m thinking out loud here, but it seems one win-win solution would be to find a pair of sponsors from Midwestern states and craft legislation that sets permanent population minimums in each state in the two recovery zones, but otherwise allows states to manage populations as they see fit (i.e. delist). Wildlife advocates could claim a victory for permanent federal protections while state’s rights folks could claim they finally got wolves delisted. Of course, for such a compromise you would need to find legislators in the “middle”–not likely given the current and recent Congresses.

  6. Ryan Avatar

    The best thing that could have been hoped for for many is or this bill to get passed.. The one that will get passed when the next congress takes power will be much worse. Many hunting groups actually opposed this bill as well. Wait and see, the next one will be much stronger and will pass.

    1. Mike Avatar

      Looks like Obama may have finally heard the environmentlists with his wilderness ruling today.

      He won’t sign a bill that guts the ESA, as lukewarm as he’s been on conservation.

      1. Phil Avatar

        He has been one president that not to many people can figure out.

      2. Phil Avatar

        …But, I forgot to mention that it is great that he reversed Bush’s plan.

      3. Ryan Avatar

        I’ll take that bet mike, any day of the week.

    2. JimT Avatar

      The hunting groups opposed it because they want NO protections for wolves anytime, anywhere…So, what, we cave and agree to bills that essentially gut the ESA and ensure that wolves stay on the cusp of sustainability/extinction?

      So, let’s say the ranchers got tired of elk infecting their livestock, and wanted them confined to a geographical area..Would the elk lovers on the list accept that? Wait for it…..HELL NO…

      So, why should wolf advocates?

      1. JB Avatar

        Can you explain how a bill that delists a species “guts” the ESA? At the worst the original Tester-Baucus bill could be characterized as exempting one wolf population from full protection–but even that is a stretch.

      2. WM Avatar


        Again, have you actually read the Tester-Baucus bill?

        To add to JB’s comment, T-B only removes the NRM wolves for a period of 5 years, at or above population management objectives set forth in the respective ID and MT implementation plans (and keeps them within FWS thresholds in WY); they go back on the list if the states screw up in the interim, AND THEN they go back on the ESA list with the sunset provision of the statute (unless, it would seem, a rule is promulgated to keep them off on expiry).

        It also guarantees the feds pay a goodly sum for continued monitoring each year of the 5, so the states can’t grumble about budget woes, and probably keeps them doing the periodic reporting on at least an annual basis.

        I cannot imagine a more practical and fair handed -wait, see, monitor and evaluate – compromise that seeks the middle ground, and in which both the antis and the pros get something, and something they don’t on a temporary basis.

  7. Ovis Avatar


    I think the bill that failed was the Hatch bill, a very bad bill.

    I was kind of pleased to see a couple Democrats object to Risch and Crapo’s unanimous consent request to take up the bill. This, after two years of them filibustering, putting holds on bills, and using other delaying tactics rather than letting bills come to the Senate floor for a straight up or down vote.

    Seems like a bit of justice!

  8. JimT Avatar

    it is dead for now, but will be reintroduced in the coming session. I can’t seem to get my hands on it, but the summary I read was just plain citizen suits, no listings for any wolves in the lower 48, basically no power for the Sec. to reverse any of this, and so on. Don’t know if this was the Testor Baucus bill; I got the feeling this was a separate bill from that by Testor….in any case, we will see.

    As for Obama, well, that policy should have been reversed a long time ago, but I am glad Salazar is at least looking at some way to protect appropriate “wild places”…Oil and gas folks are screaming bloody murder about locking up public lands..same old BS we always hear. They won’t be satisified until the public lands look like Houston. They are just starting the process.. a long way to go before the finish line on this one.

    1. WM Avatar


      Have you actually read the Tester/Baucus bill?

      1. JimT Avatar
    2. Ryan Avatar

      My bad, it was the tester Baccus bill that was universally disliked.. The Hatch bill will most likely pass next session.

  9. Craig Avatar

    If this didn’t pass you can bet on the next bill being waaaaay worse and probably passing! That’s the nature of our leaders doing the best for us…..or what packs there back pockets with the most money!


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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