WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to drop legal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, reopening a lengthy battle over the predator species.
Long despised by farmers and ranchers, wolves were shot, trapped and poisoned out of existence in most of the U.S. by the mid-20th century.
Since securing protection in the 1970s, wolves have bounced back in the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the wolf’s status and is expected to declare they’ve recovered sufficiently to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The House bill enshrines that policy in law.
It was approved, 196-180, and now goes to the Senate.
Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling For Wolves, a Minnesota-based wolf advocacy organization, said in response:
“Howling For Wolves will continue to be a voice for the wild wolf and their long-term survival for future generations, and against this short-sighted wolf bill if it moves forward in Washington D.C. Today’s vote in the U.S. House was politically-motivated against the Endangered Species Act, against wolves for our ecology and future generations, and simply supporting wolf trophy hunting and killing. We know the vast majority value wolves and want them protected. We already know too little about the genetic diversity and the health of wild wolves.”