WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-4th District, has introduced a bill to remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list.
HR 1985, the Pacific Northwest Gray Wolf Management Act of 2015, would remove the wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife under the federal Endangered Species Act and return management authority for the species back to individual states.
Co-sponsors of the bill are Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.
“This is a common sense bill that would allow states to provide a more flexible management program and move forward with the implementation of the gray wolf delisting efforts, which are long overdue,” Newhouse said. “States are fully qualified to manage gray wolf populations responsibly and are better equipped to meet the needs of local communities, ranchers, livestock and wildlife populations.
“Delisting the gray wolf under ESA would allow state wildlife officials to manage wolf populations more effectively.”
The gray wolf was delisted in the eastern part of the state, with U.S. Highway 97 as the dividing line. The highway splits Okanogan County, meaning that in areas east of the highway, the wolf is not listed as endangered by the federal government. The species remains federally listed west of the highway.
The wolf is listed under state law as endangered statewide.
On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a proposed rule that would have removed the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list. The determination was made after Fish and Wildlife “evaluated the classification status of gray wolves currently listed in the contiguous United States and Mexico under the Endangered Species Act of 1973” and found the “best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the currently listed entity is not a valid species under the act,” according to the proposed rule.
The statutory purpose of Endangered Species Act is to recover species to the point where they are no longer considered "endangered" or "threatened."
The gray wolf is found in nearly fifty countries around the world and has been placed in the classification of “least concern” globally for risk of extinction by the Species Survival Commission Wolf Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation Nature, Newhouse said.
Ample populations in the U.S. and Canada have already led to the delisting of the gray wolf from ESA in the Northern Rocky Mountain and Western Great Lakes region.
Okanogan and Ferry counties are home to several wolf packs; most of the state’s wolf packs are in North-Central and Northeastern Washington.