December 3, 2010

Endangerd Or Not? Wolf Debate Continues

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and governors from three states continued talks on Thursday about removing wolves from the endangered list, but reached no agreements.

Western lawmakers are pushing bills in Congress that would declare the region's 1,700 wolves recovered and no longer in need of federal protections.

However, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal said that there is still no conclusion on how that should be done.

Freudenthal said that progress has been made toward balancing wolf restoration against local concerns about wolf attacks on livestock and wildlife.  Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter also participated in the talks.

Montana's two Democratic senators, Jon Tester and Max Baucus, said on Thursday that they urged Salazar "to keep the governors of the three states at the table to find a unified way forward."

Wildlife advocates were scrambling to head off the push against wolves in Congress and they said it could set a dangerous precedent and severely undermine the Endangered Species Act.

They also fear that a struggling population of the animals in the desert Southwest could get swept into the debate, through at least two pending bills that would strip protections from wolves nationwide.  Arizona and New Mexico had just 42 Mexican gray wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf.

"If they were stripped of protection altogether, there's no doubt the Mexican gray wolf would go extinct," Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity told The Associated Press.