BY TRACY PFEIFFER
ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY
You're watching multisource U.S. news analysis from Newsy
President Barack Obama has called the 2011 budget agreement one of the largest annual spending cuts in U.S. history, requiring many sacrifices -- and it appears the latest group to get the axe is... wolves.
ANCHOR, VOICE OVER: “Gray wolves would be taken off the endangered species list across most of the northern Rockies. It would return the wolves to state management in Washington and Oregon. Wolf hunting would be able to resume in Idaho and Montana.”(KIRO)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are the two agencies that typically handle delisting and downlisting, which is when a species is moved from, say, “endangered” to “threatened” -- a process involving several government agencies, wildlife expert opinions, and public feedback. (Video: U.S. Fish and Wildlife)
The move marks the first time a species has been delisted by legislative action since the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973 -- and in a press release, the president of pro-conservation legal group Earthjustice says, the budget rider unfairly bypasses safeguards put in place by the Act.
“...it’s a tragedy that they’ve been thrown under the bus for political reasons. By law, lifting federal endangered species protections is supposed to be based solely on biology, not politicians enacting their political judgment. Let the wildlife experts do their jobs.”
USA Today reports there are roughly 1600 gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain Region today. Federal reintroduction programs began in the 1990s after nearing extinction in the early 20th century due to hunting and deforestation.(Video: National Geographic)
But hunters and ranchers say wolves are killing off livestock and big game animals like elk and moose. And the New York Times quotes one of the provision’s backers, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, who says it isn’t about politics -- it’s just good legislation.
"This wolf fix isn't about one party's agenda. It's about what's right for Montana and the West … It's high time for a predictable, practical law that finally delists Montana's wolves and returns their management to our state."
Finally, USA Today reports, while the move is bad news for wolf lovers, it might also prove detrimental for economic reasons.
“...despite their elusiveness, they've become ‘a powerful economic generator for tourism’ in communities near Yellowstone National Park ... A 2006 study projected that Yellowstone tourists who come to watch wolves spend $35 million a year on those trips.”
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