By Raju Chebium
Seventy-five House members — including Palm Desert Democrat Raul Ruiz and Carmel Democrat Sam Farr — wrote to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Wednesday urging her to scrap a proposal to remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list.
In a letter written by Oregon Rep. Pete DeFazio, the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, the lawmaker referred to last month’s independent review requested by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
That study, done by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said flawed science was used in developing the plan to de-list the wolf throughout the continental U.S.
California does not have a resident gray wolf population. However, one male from an Oregon pack wandered deep into California recently — presumably in search of a mate — before returning back to his home state.
The Obama administration “should rescind the proposed rule immediately,” the lawmakers wrote.
“The findings … validate concerns raised by Congress and the scientific community over the (Fish & Wildlife) Service’s failure to use the best available science,” according to the letter. “The proposed rule undermines decades of conservation work done to protect the gray wolf, and sets a bad precedent for future ESA de-listings.”
The Fish & Wildlife Service — which is overseen by the Interior Department — backed away from the de-listing plan and said it will seek additional public input before issuing a final rule.
DeFazio and his allies want Jewell to go further. They want her to end the de-listing effort, period.
The two Republicans who signed the letter were New Jersey’s Chris Smith and Pennsylvania’s Mike Fitzpatrick. Most congressional Republicans favor de-listing.
Ruiz is a member of the natural resources panel.
Gray wolves have been under federal protection in the lower 48 states since 1967.
Wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains and the western Great Lakes region were de-listed in recent years after the government said those populations are rebounding.
The Fish & Wildlife Service wanted to de-listing the gray wolf in the rest of the continental U.S. while continuing to give the Mexican gray wolf, found only in the Southwest, full protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Farmers, ranchers and hunters pushed for the gray wolf de-listing.