by ERIKA BOLSTAD, June 26, 2011 - The Idaho Statesman
Rep. Mike Simpson's success in getting wolves delisted in Idaho and Montana has put other animals in the cross hairs, but he says lawmakers shouldn't meddle with the process.
WASHINGTON — The Endangered Species Act has long had its foes, particularly in the West, where a long-raging battle over how to manage gray wolves has pitted environmentalists, ranchers, state wildlife managers and the federal government against each other.
But in recent months, the law has also taken an unprecedented hit from Congress.
Republicans, led by Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, successfully used a budget bill signed into law by the president to return to the states of Idaho and Montana the ability to manage their wolf populations.
The move effectively took the wolves off the federal endangered species list in those two states, sidestepping provisions in the Endangered Species Act that give citizens the ability to use the courts to force the government to act on endangered species.
The act has long been seen as one of the most powerful laws in the country, but now environmentalists say the success in delisting the wolf will open the act to new legislative attacks.
It “has certainly emboldened certain members who for political reasons see a benefit in stopping new listings,” said Mike Senatore, vice president of conservation law at Defenders of Wildlife. “It set exceedingly bad precedent.”
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