On a largely party-line vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation that would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves, with the exception of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest.
Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin sponsored the “Manage Our Wolves Act.” The legislation now heads to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain.
Just nine Democrats joined 187 Republicans in voting in favor of the bill. Twelve Republicans voted “no.” Nonetheless, Duffy touted bipartisan support for his legislation.
“I think the reason you see Democrats and Republicans coming together, and actually the House and Senate coming together on this bill,” Duffy said, “is because if you live in the northern part of the United States, you know, Great Lakes and west, you understand that the wolves are a huge problem.”
As of last year, there were about 6,000 gray wolves living in the Lower 48, according to Bureau of Land Management statistics. Wolves occupy less than 10 percent of their former range in the contiguous United States.
“This final, pathetic stab at wolves exemplifies House Republicans’ longstanding cruelty and contempt for our nation’s wildlife,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We don’t expect to see these disgraceful anti-wildlife votes next year under Democratic control of the House.”
Over the past several years, federal courts have ruled repeatedly in favor of maintaining ESA protections for wolves. Duffy’s bill would preclude legal challenges to the legislation.