House Votes to End Wolf Protection in 48 States

Bill appears unlikely to pass Senate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 30, 2024 6:04 PM CDT
House Votes to Remove Wolves From Endangered List
A gray wolf is seen at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota.   (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File)

The US House voted 209-205 Tuesday to end federal protection for gray wolves, approving a bill that would remove them from the endangered species list across the lower 48 states. A handful of Democrats joined with Republicans in passing the bill. The measure now goes to the Senate, but it appears doomed after the White House issued a statement Monday warning that the Biden administration opposes it, the AP reports. Congress shouldn't play a role in determining whether a species has recovered, the statement said.

The Republican-authored bill comes amid national debate on the wolves' future. Hunters and farmers across the country maintain the species is stable and have been complaining for years about wolf attacks on game species and livestock. They want to be allowed to legally kill the animals. Conservationists insist the population remains fragile after being hunted to near-extinction by the 1960s.

  • In 2011 Congress stripped Endangered Species Act protection from gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and the Trump administration removed protections across the rest of the continental US in 2020. However, a federal judge blocked the change except in the northern Rocky Mountains. The US Fish and Wildlife Service this past February rejected requests from conservation groups to restore protections in that six-state Rockies region, allowing Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming's state-sponsored wolf hunts to continue.

  • Wolves aren't considered threatened in Alaska—the population there stands at between 7,000 and 11,000 animals—and they aren't found in Hawaii. There were an estimated about 8,000 animals across the lower 48 states in 2022, according to a compilation of wildlife agency data by the Wolf Conservation Center.
  • Republicans argued wolves have clearly recovered and ending protections should be celebrated as a conservation success. Democrats countered that the species still needs help. They said if protections are lifted, hunters will again push wolves to near extinction. "Passing this bill would simply call the wolves recovered, but that does not make it so," said Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat.

(More gray wolf stories.)

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