US House Passes Bill To Take Gray Wolves Off The Endangered Species List

In the latest turn of a political rollercoaster over the protection of gray wolves, the US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to pass a bill that would see the animals removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The bill, dubbed the “Trust the Science Act”, was passed by a vote of 209-205. Introduced by Republican representative Lauren Boebert from Colorado, the bill aims to delist and thus remove protections for gray wolves, which are currently classed as endangered in 44 states.

Many of the bill’s supporters have argued that gray wolves are no longer in need of protection and are causing harm to the people they represent.

“The science is clear; the gray wolf has met and exceeded recovery goals,” said bill co-sponsor and Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany in a statement. “Today’s House passage represents an important first step towards restoring local control over the skyrocketing gray wolf population in Wisconsin. I will continue to fight to get this legislation through the U.S. Senate to protect livestock and pets from brutal wolf attacks.”

Its opponents aren’t so sure. “Passing this bill would simply call the wolves recovered, but that does not make it so,” California Democrat Congressman Jared Huffman told AP.

According to the Wolf Conservation Center, there are just over 8,100 gray wolves present in the 48 conterminous states, of which the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates around 2,797 are found within the Western US.

Gray wolves were first listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act in 1978, after hunting throughout the early 1900s nearly led to their extinction in most of the lower 48 states. That federal protection was removed in 2020 under the Trump administration – and then reversed by a California judge less than two years later, in all but four of the original 48 states.

If the current bill were to be enacted into law, at least in its current format, it would prevent such judicial review and reversals from taking place in the future.

The next step for the proposed law is the US Senate, though if a statement released by the Biden administration the day before the House vote is anything to go by, there are doubts it’ll get any further. 

“[T]he Administration strongly opposes this bill,” the statement reads.

“The transparent and science-based process prescribed by the ESA, with public input, is the best path for adding or removing species from the ESA. If enacted, [the Trust the Science Act] would undermine America’s proud wildlife conservation traditions and the implementation of one of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws.”

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