Top Democratic senator: It was ‘my’ idea to delist wolves

Jonathan Strong Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.
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Environmentalists are howling over a policy “rider” in the just-passed spending bill that delists wolves from an endangered species list in some states.

But if they want to make political mettle of it, they’ll have to aim at Democrats.

Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in an e-mail to constituents the wolf rider is “my plan.”

“My plan cuts through the red tape. It restores Montana’s ability to manage wolves in a way that works for ranchers, hunters and wolves,” Baucus said.

The letter to constituents steals the spotlight from another Montana Democrat, Sen. John Tester, who had earlier claimed credit.

In the Republican-controlled House, Rep. Mike Simpson, Idaho Republican, backed the provision.

At issue is a decision by scientists at the National Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves in certain states where they had recovered to robust population levels.

Environmentalist groups sued and won in federal court, halting the plan.

Congress stepped in with its spending bill and reinstated the agency’s plan.

Of all of the riders curtailing a slew of strict new environmental regulations put into place during the Obama administration, it was the only to secure a place in the final deal.

Full text of the April 15 e-mail:

Hi folks,

This week we put an end to the hard-fought battle to delist wolves in Montana and return them to state management. It’s a huge victory for Montana and a common-sense solution that will give certainty to our ranchers, farmers and hunters once and for all.

Since last August when District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled to return gray wolves in Montana to Federal management, the wolf issue has come up time and time again in my talks with folks all across the state.

Montanans want this problem solved. No one, especially the federal government, knows how to better manage wolves than Montanans. We’ve proven it with a successful management plan and a successful wolf hunt. And that’s why, from the start, I vowed to resolve this issue for the people of our state and see it through to the end.

The science is clear: With over 1700 wolves in the Northern Rockies, wolves are a recovered species. Don’t just take my word for it; that’s what scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service have determined. That’s why the Fish and Wildlife Service tried to remove Montana and Idaho’s wolves from the Endangered Species List back in 2009. The only problem was that without an approved management plan in Wyoming, the Fish and Wildlife Service couldn’t legally return wolves in Montana and Idaho to state management.

My plan cuts through the red tape. It restores Montana’s ability to manage wolves in a way that works for ranchers, hunters and wolves.

I’ve heard strong words of support from folks across the spectrum from the Montana Stockgrowers Association to the Montana Wildlife Federation.

Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, tells me pushing this legislation through to the finish line is a real win for Montana’s family ranches, and it ensures Montana ranchers have the necessary tools to protect their cattle from wolves.

And Tim Aldrich, Montana Wildlife Federation President, says this is great for Montana hunters and livestock producers. “For far too long we have been held hostage by litigation and political wrangling,” Tim says. “Wolves are recovered in our state. We have a science-based management plan, and Montana FWP is fully capable of responsibly managing wolves along with all the other wildlife that makes Montana the last, best place.”

That’s why, for months I’ve been strongly urging Senator Reid to include my wolf provision in the budget compromise to fund the federal government.

That’s just what he did. And yesterday, the President signed this into law. That means in 60 days, Montana will be rightfully back in control of our own wolf population.

I’m so proud we got this done. By working together, we found a common-sense, Montana solution to an issue that matters to the people of our state.

All the best,