September 21, 2016
Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing on the status of the federal government’s inconsistent and unsuccessful wolf management efforts in the United States. The panel, which included local and state witnesses, focused on red wolves in the Southeast, gray wolves in the Northwest and Western Great Lakes and Mexican wolves in the Southwest.
“For decades, ineffective and sometimes destructive federal management of wolves has negatively impacted communities, economies, livestock, family businesses, recreationists and even family pets in vast swaths of our nation […]. Just last week the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] announced that the 30 year red wolf recovery program in North Carolina is, for all intents and purposes, a failure,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said.
Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Alexandra Sandoval spoke about the failure of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to cooperate with the State of New Mexico in its Mexican wolf recovery efforts.
“Had the Service been more cooperative years ago […] we would likely be at a different place today than where we are – a court ordered injunction preventing [FWS] from releasing wolves in New Mexico in violation of state and federal law,” Sandoval stated.
It took over ten years and an act of Congress to delist gray wolves in Idaho and Montana despite the universally-acknowledged species recovery, according to Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Virgil Moore.
“If species do not come off the endangered species list when science-based recovery criteria are achieved, states and local communities have no incentive to be active participants in recovery efforts,” Moore stated.
Executive Director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Gordon Myers discussed the unsustainability of the red wolf recovery program, including the existential threat of hybridization, for which FWS has no solution. He also emphasized the inability of FWS to keep introduced wolves from encroaching on private property.
States have demonstrated that they are by far the best situated and equipped to manage wildlife and uphold the doctrine of multiple use on public lands within their borders. Management responsibility for recovered species must be transferred to states at the earliest possibly juncture. In the meantime, FWS must make every effort to work with states and stakeholders in its recovery efforts, and it must take responsibility for its failures, such as those in the red wolf program.
to view full witness testimony.