BREAKING – More bad news for wolves. In a sickening slap in the face to citizens, scientists and a vast majority of callers and commenters, the Oregon Senate Committee just moved the contentious and furiously-fought state wolf-delisting bill forward. House Bill 4040, introduced (of course) by Republican wolf opponents catering to the increasingly reviled sport-hunting and livestock industries, had already passed through the House and now moves to the Senate floor for a full vote. “Twenty-five leading scientists wrote to the commission noting significant disagreement with delisting, and 96 percent of 10,000 public comments opposed the delisting,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity in this evening’s press release. “Oregon voters have every right to be disgusted by this special-interest driven legislation.”
This is just the latest attack on our nation’s wolves – Already this month both the critically endangered red and Mexican gray wolves were also dealt massive blows by catering to a minority of consumptive special interests. In all three of these cases, decades of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer investment are being tossed out the window for the benefit of private ranchers and sport hunters. The internationally famous and successful poster children for the ESA, wolves are being abandoned and betrayed despite huge public support for restoring wolves to their rightful place in the American landscape. And, worse, betrayed by people who have no business making decisions on policy governing the future of the country’s (and the worlds) iconic keystone predators. “Having legislators make decisions about whether an endangered species is recovered is like allowing scientists to pass laws — it simply defies reason,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “When a state commission makes a decision that clearly appears to violate the law, the place to make that determination is in the court, not in the legislature.”
This move isn’t just bad for wolves, though; it’s an outright assault on the Endangered Species Act, our best, strongest tool for protecting species from extinction. The intent of H.B. 4040 is to, further, unconstitutionally block any and all future review of the illegal and controversial delisting action last November. According to the press release, “In November 2015 the Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 to strip gray wolves of state endangered species act protections. The commissioners who voted to delist based their decision on an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report that numerous scientists have characterized as severely flawed and illogical. Of the two commissioners who voted against delisting, one indicated that wolves had not met criteria for having recovered in a significant portion of the species’ range, while the other stated there had not been time to evaluate all the science that had been sent to them. In December the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild filed a legal challenge to the commission’s decision. Shortly after the 2016 session of the Oregon legislature convened earlier this month, bills were introduced by Senate and House Republicans to ratify the commission’s decision, in order to block judicial review of the delisting decision.”
Obviously Republicans intend to completely eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, weakening or removing a existing laws protecting imperiled species as well as smothering the voice of the people, who have spoken loudly on behalf of protecting wolves across the country. This should be gravely concerning to all, because the rights of voters are being stripped away again in deference to commercial interests. Not just wolves are being thrown under the bus by these right-wing lawmakers
Details shared through CBD state, “If passed on the Senate floor and reconciled with a House-passed version of the same bill, H.B. 4040 would next go to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown. At the commission delisting hearing in November, the commission did not ask to have its vote ratified by the legislature, but did ask that a bill be introduced to substantially raise poaching fines for wolves. That bill, H.B. 4046, was introduced but has stalled in hearings.”
The news release concludes. “On Monday U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Democrats in the Oregon Senate and to Gov. Kate Brown blasting the pending legislation, emphasizing the critical role judicial review plays in protecting endangered species under the law.” Let’s hope DeFazio can rile up enough support to defeat this unlawful, unconstitutional and unethical attack on America’s wildlife, the ESA and the American people.
Read the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity in its entirety, here.