Congressional budget bill removes wolves from endangered list

Rep. Mike Simpson

Two Western lawmakers say gray wolves in Montana and Idaho would be taken off the endangered list under the budget bill pending before Congress.

Inclusion of the language to lift protections for wolves was confirmed by the offices of Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson on Saturday. A Simpson spokesperson said the bill also would prevent courts from reversing any Congressional action.

Environmental groups fought prior efforts to remove more than 1,600 wolves in the Northern Rockies from the endangered list.

In a bid to pre-empt Congressional action, 10 groups recently signed an agreement with the Obama administration that would lift protections but provide safeguards against overhunting. Lawmakers including Tester and Simpson said they didn’t want to risk that agreement being rejected in court, which it was.

A final vote on the budget bill is expected this week.

It was uncertain Saturday if the bill would take more than 300 wolves off the endangered list in Wyoming. That state had been left out of prior measures because of a Wyoming law that would allow wolves to be shot on sight across most of the state.  (AP)

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