House passes Boebert-led bill removing gray wolf from endangered species list

Gun Rights

The House approved a proposal to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list after concerns from Republicans that the distinction disproportionately affected farmers by threatening their livestock. 

Lawmakers voted 209-205 to pass the Trust the Science Act on Tuesday, which would delist the gray wolf and remove any judicial oversight over the animal population. The bill was passed largely along party lines, with only four Democrats voting in favor of the measure. Four Republicans voted against it.

The legislation was led by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) in response to the release of 10 gray wolves in Colorado late last year, which the congresswoman said has resulted in livestock depredations and at least six separate wolf attacks “just this month.” The bill, if passed, would remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list and return oversight of wolf management to individual states and tribal wildlife agencies. 

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“Let’s do as my bill says: Trust the bipartisan science and pass this bill so we can finally delist the recovered — fully recovered — gray wolf and focus scarce taxpayer funding on endangered species that actually need help,” Boebert said on Tuesday. 

Democrats had pushed back against the bill, claiming it was an effort to weaken environmental laws. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) pushed against Boebert’s proposal, accusing Republicans of repeatedly trying to alter the Endangered Species Act for political reasons. 

“Republican leadership has taken an opportunity to vilify an endangered species today, here on this floor, to sacrifice it to their precious industry groups,” Huffman said. “Guns. Oil. And polluters. That has come to be what the GOP stands for, at least in this Congress.”

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The bill comes after the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf in the lower 48 states in 2021, when there were roughly 6,000 wolves recorded in the U.S. population. However, that decision was overturned by a California judge in 2022, fully restoring Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf across much of the country. 

Since then, many livestock producers have come out in support of returning the duty of oversight to the individual states. The bill has received support from groups such as the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

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Huffman lamented the proposed removal as an endangered species, arguing that although the country’s gray wolf population has recovered in recent decades, “the science and the facts on the ground tell us that it still needs help.”

The proposal now heads to the Senate, where it’s unclear whether it would pass the Democratic-led chamber. However, there have been bipartisan efforts in the past in the Senate to delist the gray wolf, making its future uncertain.

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