WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fate of the Mexican gray wolf hangs in the air following a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.
On Nov. 16, House members passed H.R. 6784, the “Manage our Wolves Act,” by a vote of 196 to 180.
In a prepared statement, U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., explained his vote in favor of the bill.
“The federal government’s listing of the gray wolf is no longer necessary, and yet continues to cause economic harm for ranchers across the United States. I will continue to work with (Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul) Gosar, Chairman Bishop and the Trump administration to continue to reform the Endangered Species Act and return power back to the states,” Biggs said.
What this could mean for the gray wolf in the lower 48 states is the removal of restrictions by the Endangered Species Act that prevent ranchers and hunters from killing the animal.
The Mexican subspecies is thus far excluded from the ruling, but conservationists and activists have expressed dismay and outrage at the decision.
“The Endangered Species Act requires that when species reach the brink of extinction, decisions are made solely based on the best available science, yet today’s vote shows the hubris of putting politicians with no scientific background in charge, wresting these critical decisions away from professional scientists,” wildlife biologist and Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project Erik Molvar said in a statement last week.
The vote was noted to be largely partisan, with House Democrats describing delisting as being ill-advised and accusing government of meddling in affairs better dictated by science.
“The Endangered Species Act works, and it has protected some of our most iconic animals that were on the brink of extinction,” said Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District Representative Paul Grijalva in a post on twitter. “House Republicans are voting today to destroy the law and delist the gray wolf. What species will they target tomorrow?”
Despite these reservations, conservationst said they feel confident the piece of legislation would fare poorly in the Senate.
If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, H.R. 6784 would prevent the delisting from being challenged in court.