Howls about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park are not fading, despite a compromise bill trying to persuade critics and supporters to run in the same pack.
Ranchers, environmentalists, politicians and government biologists were not sheepish about preying on each other in a recent Senate hearing - as they have for three years since Rep. Wayne Owens, R-Utah, first introduced wolf proposals.The hearing by the Senate Energy Subcommittee on Public Lands, National Parks and Forests showed that while a compromise bill by Sen. James A. McClure, R-Idaho, would reintroduce wolves, pro-wolf environmentalists still don't like its methods and effects.
And ranchers and most local politicians still do not want wolves in the area at all - fearing their livestock will become wolf snacks - but say if it must happen, then they prefer McClure's methods that give states more latitude in wolf control.
Owens is among those who is not happy with McClure's bill, and he is still pushing separate proposals of his own.
Owens complained that McClure's bill would exempt itself from complying with the Endangered Species Act as it calls for reintroduction and protection of three pairs of wolves in certain "core" areas around Yellowstone, but it would legislatively remove wolves from the endangered list elsewhere.
That means if wolves wander far from Yellowstone, they would not have protection as an endangered species, and states could decide what to do with them - which would likely be a death sentence since most states prefer not having them.
Also, Owens said animals should not be removed from the endangered species list by legislation, but only because biological results warrant it.
Owens warned, "I will not support a bill for restoring wolves that is not consistent with the Endangered Species Act. I am confident that such a bill will not pass in the House of Representatives nor in committee."
McClure warned in return, "Both sides must give a little in order to get a little; otherwise, the polarization and controversy will continue until one side or the other is forced to capitulate."
McClure, who is retiring, is usually seen as an enemy to environmentalists. But even they agree he is honestly trying to work out a viable compromise. McClure said seeking solutions pleasing to both sides is his job as a senator.
For the same reasons as Owens, numerous environmental groups opposed McClure's bill as it is now written, including the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife - which has established a fund to pay ranchers for any livestock that wolves kill.