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As gray wolves terrorize farms and ranches, GOP lawmakers demand endangered species delisting

A group of 20 House Republicans is urging the Biden administration to roll back protections for the gray wolf, pointing to the species’ growing population size and conflicts with ranchers and farmers.

The GOP coalition, led by Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., argued in a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Martha Williams that the gray wolf no longer needed to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. He wrote that ‘protection merely for the sake of protection’ is not the purpose of the law. Instead, he encouraged the agency to focus its efforts on protecting species in danger of extinction.

‘The substantial growth in the population of gray wolves throughout Oregon and the western United States poses significant challenges for ranchers, farmers, and outdoorsmen alike,’ Bentz, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee’s Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Subcommittee, told Fox News Digital in a statement.

‘It’s imperative that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service promptly act to delist the gray wolf so that those in the western United States who are burdened by the reintroduction of an admittedly recovered apex predator species can protect themselves.’

Bentz and his 19 fellow Republicans said the resurgence of the gray wolf population should be touted as a success story of the Endangered Species Act. They argued that removing the federal protections would allow western states to pursue their own protections.

And they emphasized that without a FWS rule delisting the species, the growing population of wolves would create significant, and sometimes life-threatening, conflicts for Americans. Under the Endangered Species Act, killing listed animals can be punishable by heavy fines and even jail time. 

‘Unsurprisingly, the substantial growth in gray wolf populations has led to increased conflict between wolves and people,’ the letter reads. ‘The impact of gray wolves on livestock herds is not, and cannot, be limited to just depredation. Wolves inflict much greater damage to herds than can be measured by simply counting carcasses.

‘Wolves have an immense psychological impact on livestock herds that does result in losses for producers. These losses can manifest as ‘stress, sickness, and reduced weight gain and pregnancy rates when wolves scare, chase or attack livestock.’ Too often ranchers are put in the impossible situation of choosing between obeying the law and protecting their livelihoods.’

The letter concluded by stating that ranchers ‘must be able to protect their livestock’ and should not ‘be hamstrung by unnecessary regulations that over-protect a species that is thriving.’

In 2020, the Trump administration agreed that gray wolves had fully recovered and, as such, delisted them as ‘endangered.’ Then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said at the time that the species was neither threatened nor endangered, based on the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

In early 2022, though, a federal district court reinstated the Endangered Species Act protections in the lower 48 states.

And, in a separate but related decision last month, the FWS declined to list the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains’ ecosystem over objections from environmentalists. Bentz and the other GOP lawmakers said that decision means the species should be delisted across the country.

Calls placed to the FWS were not returned at press time. 

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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