A coalition of the nation's largest hunting and conservation groups today thanked Members of Congress for taking several steps in the right direction for wolf conservation. The coalition reminded Congress that all wolves in the Rockies and Great Lakes area are recovered and should now be managed by state biologists. The coalition supports all four pending bills in the House and Senate to move recovered wolf populations to state management. The groups include Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, National Rifle Association, and Safari Club International.
“The reintroduction of wolves has become a serious problem in several states across the country. Therefore, efforts to manage wolf populations through regulated hunting is long-overdue," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. “Left unmanaged, wolf packs have been decimating the game animals on which hunters depend, as well as threatening livestock and local communities. The NRA supports all legislative measures that will preserve America’s hunting and conservation heritage and will continue to fight for a solution to this critical issue.”
"The wolf is recovered biologically but population management is hung up in legal questions that judges call 'ambiguous'" said Bob Model, Chairman of Government Affairs for the Boone and Crockett Club. "Lawyers and judges disagree on the law. But no one disagrees with the numbers. The strength of the large and growing wolf population is obvious, and the numbers meet and far surpass the established threshold for recovery.”
Wolf populations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes are at least 5 times larger than the federal recovery goals according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Representative Mike Simpson, and Senators Baucus and Tester have illustrated that there are many options available to move toward a solution, and we greatly appreciate that," said Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. "These members are building on the attention that Senator Hatch and Representative Rehberg called to this issue with their companion bills earlier this Congress. We thank all of these Members for their contribution to the debate, and we support all of their pending legislation on this issue.”
The groups noted that recent proposals do not include Wyoming directly. They said that in order to return all recovered wolf populations to state managers, comprehensive legislation must include at least Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the Great Lakes. A transfer to state management is also called for in areas of Utah, Oregon, and Washington in the Rocky Mountains. But the coalition also supports interim steps to move toward these goals, in recognition of political realities that may delay or forestall a comprehensive remedy at this point in time.
"Wolves are remarkable in many ways," said Dr. Larry Rudolph, President of Safari Club International, "most notably, they are efficient predators. They must be managed by the same state experts that manage the elk and deer that wolves eat. State biologists need the authority to manage the entire ecosystem and all the species that interact in it. Wolves are also opportunists, feeding on prey they may encounter when not actively hunting in packs. By the same token, we must be opportunist in seizing every opportunity for progress on this issue."
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.