Breaking: New threats to grizzlies, wolves and Endangered Species Act emerge in Congress

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on April 28, 2023 with 11 Comments

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources voted in favor of six bills and resolutions that threaten to remove protections from grizzly bears and gray wolves and weaken the Endangered Species Act. This “grab bag” of danger includes:

  • The Trust the Science Act, H.R. 764, would remove Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.
  • The Grizzly Bear State Management Act, H.R. 1245, would remove Endangered Species Act protection for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population.
  • The Comprehensive Grizzly Bear Management Act, H.R. 1419, would remove Endangered Species Act protection for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population.
  • House Joint Resolution 29 would nullify a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision last year to protect the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act.
  • House Joint Resolution 46 would nullify last year’s joint decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to expand the habitat that the Endangered Species Act can protect for the benefit of species facing extinction.
  • House Joint Resolution 49 would nullify last year’s tentative decision by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act.

House Joint Resolutions 29, 46, and 49 would significantly harm the Endangered Species Act by using the Congressional Review Act to overturn recent protections for imperiled animals. Using the Congressional Review Act in this way sets a dangerous precedent by essentially voiding previous rules issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and by prohibiting the agencies from issuing any similar rule without a future act from Congress.

This kind of public policy doesn’t simply weaken our democratic processes; it puts these vulnerable species under terrible pressure. We’ve already seen the harm that comes when Congress removes a population from the Endangered Species Act’s list of threatened and endangered species: Since Congress directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho in 2011, thousands of wolves—including pups—have been slaughtered, and those states continue to pursue new and crueler ways to kill wolves. If H.R. 764 is passed, other states may move to adopt the same trophy hunting, trapping and population reduction schemes plaguing the wolves of the Northern Rockies.

Gray wolves face a new threat from the Trust the Science Act, which would remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the lower 48 states. Alamy Stock Photo

Grizzly bears face peril once again if H.R. 1245 and H.R. 1419 go through. In the early 1800s this iconic species ranged from northern Mexico to Alaska and in the lower 48 states numbered as many as 50,000 individuals. But by the 1930s, grizzly bears had been nearly wiped out. Only about 135 bears remained when the species was granted Endangered Species Act protections in 1975. With these protections, grizzly bear numbers have slowly begun to recover, and they now live in small, isolated subpopulations. However, there are still fewer than 2,000 individuals in the lower 48 states, so it’s critical that grizzly bears retain their protections if they are to survive. Should those protections disappear, it’s likely that some states will rush to allow trophy hunting that targets them.

Not only would House Resolutions 764, 1245 and 1419 open the door to trophy hunting of imperiled species, but they would also bar these measures from judicial review, effectively removing the rights of citizens to challenge them in court, an essential feature of the checks-and-balances structure of our system of government.

We expect the House of Representatives to vote on these measures in the coming months, so there’s time to take action to protect wolves, grizzlies and the Endangered Species Act, one of the few laws that remains immensely popular with the American public. The Endangered Species Act has saved approximately 99% of its listed species from extinction, and it is thanks to this landmark law that iconic species such as the bald eagle, whose numbers had plummeted by the 1970s, still grace our national landscape.

Contact your House representatives to urge them to oppose these measures and any others that reverse progress for grizzly bears, wolves and other imperiled wildlife who depend on endangered species protections for their survival.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Sharon Meyers says:

    I’m so outraged. I don’t understand how our government can’t see what there decisions will do. And trophy hunting is disgusting. That’s for people who aren’t true hunters there just fakes, anyone can kill an animal that has no way to hide. And the cruelty of going in wolves dens and killing the adults and babies. Disgusting.

    • Debbie Reek says:

      Dear, dear Sharon,

      It seems so blatantly obvious to me that what you’re saying is obviously true. I find it incomprehensible and horrifying they would even consider any of the garbage that they are. It almost frightens me if I weren’t so irate. The childish feuds going on between Republicans and Democrats is annoying. These are our ‘leaders’? I will most certainly make calls, write letters (I’m not very good) to at least ‘raise my hand’ and express my beliefs in animals (more than humans but I won’t tell them that). After all, there are some humans not in Congress who actually DO care.

  2. laurie says:

    I do not understand how the totally corrupt and blood-thirsty trophy-hunting politicians (i.e., CO’s Boebert, MT’s Gianforte, etc.) can get their way over the firm position of most Americans. I wish the American people could sue these horrible people for their very damaging and irresponsible decisions.

  3. alicia Renteria-Trujillo says:

    It’s unconscionable that wild animals have to be protected from greedy, or specieist
    groups. Animals have existed on this planet long before humans. They have as much right to exist as humans.

    • Jane C Ruge Petz says:

      I agree with you. Congress has no soul, no humanity and no love of animals. Only the ones in Congress that are trying to change the Endangered Species Act.

  4. Caroline Van Haeften says:

    Please add content where Canadians, Europeans & UK citizens/residents can sign & send messages to US officials urging them to stop allowing trophy, wolf, bear & other cruel hunting traditions. The world is watching & we are holding US officials accountable for their actions. WHAT KIND OF HUMAN BEING LOVES & HAS A PASSION TO KILL? OMG!!!

  5. Judith Sterling says:

    I am appalled at what humans are doing to our animal populations !! I don’t want people to be able to enter a den and murder bear cubs or wolf cubs ? To use tree stands and bait for deer hunting is totally unfair !
    The round ups of our wild horses is inhumane and brutal , yet it continues through our Dept. Of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management !!
    I write and write and sign petitions to no avail !! We need more disclosure of this disgusting practice which I know many more Americans would object to and join the fight to protect them before it is too late !! Its the strength of the cattlemen that this is continuing so they can graze their cattle on the horses land after they push them out !
    These horses wind up in holding facilities where they are overcrowded, injured and if not adopted will be sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico ! Please spread the word for those who have no voice !!

  6. Mary says:

    Under Republican “rule” all animals are expendable. Trophy hunters, ranchers grazing their cattle pushing horses & burros from their rightful lands, special interest groups like mining oil drilling are all threats to our animals. Congress has a chance to protect them but won’t. They are too focused on what the big corporations pay them to do!

  7. Tamara Lander says:

    I sure hope and pray for the help of trying to give these animals wonderful lives now and always

  8. annah says:

    Most of us blame these evil humans of their callousness and thrill seekers of blood sports that pay an enormous sum of money for the killing of wildlife in Africa,
    but in reality, the only instigators are the ones that profit a tremendous amount of revenue are the governments that encourage this evil and must be held accountable for the decimation of wildlife, the governments have continuously shown us of their indifference towards the killing of wildlife by not putting an end or a change in the law against all animal body parts entering the countries. The governments’ greed is the predominant factor of wildlife dying in Africa.

  9. Paula Ford says:

    What the so called “hunters” really cold hearted butchers do to these innocent animals is just so evil. It really makes me sick. I’m going to be hounding all my Senators & Congressmen about keeping this endangered species act & also ending the killing of ALL these animals. The American people are against it & we’ve had enough. They need to all let it rest for now & come up with some alternative solutions !

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