(Gillette, Wyo.) Last Friday, June 30th U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) presented to the house, the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Protection (HELP) Act. Should the Act be passed, the federal protection on Wyoming’s, and other states, Gray Wolf populations is about to be lifted.
According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Barrasso joined with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) to introduce legislation that would effectively nullify the protection for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region previously given under the Endangered Species Act.
Information gathered from a 2014 Population Report from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) reveals that the population levels of gray wolves have warranted the species’ delisting since the year 2002, with over 195 wolves roaming territories outside of Yellowstone National Park. The report reads that while gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list in 2012, they were re-added to the list following an overturned ruling from a federal district court two years later.
In 2014 alone, wolves were reportedly responsible for killing or seriously injuring over 55 heads of livestock, prompting officials to lethally remove 31 of their number through control efforts to reduce the number of livestock lost to predation.
The HELP Act solidifies the removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list, and prevents any judicial ruling from overturning the decision. The bill was received favorably, with many willing to offer words of optimism for the future of the HELP Act.
“America has been blessed with remarkable wildlife,” Senator Barrasso said in a press release. “The HELP Wildlife Act promotes conservation based on sound science and provides needed protections for America’s sportsmen.”
The Act will also serve to do much more than simply remove federal protection for gray wolves, a fact clearly voiced by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.VA) who had a few additional words to say about this movement.
“This legislative package includes a number of important measures that will help protect our unique ecosystems and enable us to better enjoy our country’s natural gifts, both in wild and wonderful West Virginia and across the country.” Capito announced in a press release. “I am proud to have introduced a number of bills reflected in this legislation—including measures to support the building and expansion of public target ranges, as well as the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.”
Despite the seemingly overwhelming praise for the act from U.S. politicians, Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the CBD, views the bill with some slight misgivings.
“Killing wolves and poisoning lakes and rivers with lead pollution does not help wildlife, but will severely tarnish Senator Cardin’s conservation legacy,” Hartl stated in a press release from the CBD “Why a Democrat like Cardin would accept this terribly lopsided deal at the same time the Trump administration is attempting to destroy 40 years of environmental protections is simply stupefying.”
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar continued praising the HELP Act saying, “Hunting and fishing are not just hobbies in Minnesota – they’re a way of life – and major drivers in the outdoor and recreation economies,” Senator Klobuchar said in the same press release. “This bipartisan legislation will create greater opportunities for outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing so Minnesotans can continue to enjoy our state’s outdoor traditions.”
Hartl, however, had one last thing to say about the 2017 HELP Act.
“This legislation won’t help conservation on the ground anywhere — not a single animal or plant will benefit from this horrible legislation,” Hartl predicted.
To read the press release from the CBD, click here.
To read the press release from Sen. Capito, click here.
To view the full HELP Act, click here.
To read the original story from the Casper Star Tribune, click here.
To view the full 2014 Population Report of gray wolves from the WGFD, click here.