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Sylvia Fallon’s Blog

The Senate's "Lone wolf" spending bill

Sylvia Fallon

Posted March 7, 2011

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On Friday, the Senate released its proposed budget to fund the government for the next 7 months. Unlike the House budget bill, which was loaded with anti-environmental riders, the Senate bill has just one -- one single ‘rider’ that has nothing to do with funding and therefore has no business being in a spending bill. What provision seemed so important that it rose to the level of being the only exception to what should be a no-rider policy in the Senate?


That’s right, the only rider in the Senate continuing resolution bill would remove protections from gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain region.  Not only that, if passed, it would mark the first time Congress has ever removed any species from the Endangered Species List – a process that should be dictated by science, not politics.  And while it would be the first time, it probably would not be the last. By allowing this provision, Congress would go a long way towards rendering one of our bedrock conservation laws ineffective.  If endangered species decisions are allowed to be made by politicians, rather than qualified wildlife experts, then there is no point in having an Endangered Species Act at all.

Congress has enough to figure out with this spending bill:  funding the military, implementing health care, addressing the deficit.  Wolves and the Endangered Species Act simply should not be along for the ride. Congress should stay out of legislating decisions that should be left to scientists.  And they should keep non-funding legislation out of their spending bills. The solution is simple:  Congress should stick to its job of funding the government – and leave the wolves out of it.

               Gray wolf FWS

Photo credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service

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Jennifer GodwinMar 7 2011 02:32 PM

please protect what can't protect itself.

Lisa GainesMar 7 2011 03:13 PM

So, from someone on the other side of the world, show us the way forward. What can I do now please?

Sylvia FallonMar 7 2011 03:27 PM

Thanks, Lisa, Because the Senate and the House must agree on a bill, there is still opportunity for US citizens to tell their representatives how they feel. We will be asking those in the US to take action in the coming weeks as these bills move forward.

Maggie SchaferMar 7 2011 03:36 PM

I have contacted my Senators, Barbara Boxer who is the chairperson of the Environment and Public Works Committee several times, and all other members of that committee as well as posted on facebook and twitter asking others to do the same. Today, I left a voice comment with a volunteer at the White House telling Obama he had better not rollover on this one and sell out the public! Everyone should do the same!

I would like to sign the letter that you have put up on a website for scientists to ask Congress to stay out of wildlife issues, but cannot access it. I am a wildlife biologist, and I would be very qualified to do so.

Sylvia FallonMar 7 2011 03:49 PM

Great, Thanks, Maggie, for your efforts. Our friends at Union for Concerned Scientists have organized a letter from the Scientific Community that opposes Congress interfering with Endangered Species Act decisions. Any qualified scientists can add their name at the following website:

sharon smithMar 7 2011 08:35 PM

This bill that is going to strip this noble and innocent animal of it protection is downight--shall I say it? WICKED. What's behind this and who, anyway?

Mona BengeMar 8 2011 01:10 AM

Did this not begin with the Governor of Montana? He is a Democrat and seems like a reasonable sort but I do not understand why he or anyone else is taking this position on the gray wolves. Is it simply to satisfy ranchers that probably vote Republican?

If it isn't dealt with in the Senate then I wouldn't hold out any hope for the House with the majority pandering to the tea party mentality. Just look what is happening with the wild horses. They are still rounding them up in every state. It is monstrous. Pelosi passed a bill protecting the wild horses and burros but nothing has happened in the Senate. It just sits somewhere in a committee. Sad situation. I'll place comments with all the Senators though.

Anne ButlerMar 8 2011 01:52 PM

Actually Mona, this began two years ago with the Obama administration (like the Bush administration) wanting to end federal protection for wolves and have the states take over "managing" them. Democratic Governor Schweitzer of MT has encouraged his citizens to dismiss the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and just go ahead and shoot wolves. He's actually encouraging people
to break the law.

A judge overturned the Obama administration's ruling to remove wolves from federal protection and the wolves are still listed on the ESA. Fortunately.

But. . .now . . Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana who is facing a reelection fight from the right, has just slipped this rider into the Continuing Resolution that is moving through Congress (Section 1709) which cause the
wolves to lose their federal protection and--check this out--deny any judicial review in the future.

It's the only anti-environmental rider in the CR, it's coming from a Democrat who made a campaign promise to not use riders and it doesn't do squat to save a dime for any of us.

Still with me? Ok. Senator Jon Tester's second largest donor according to Open Secrets is Do you think the donors to would like to know that their donations are indirectly going to help kill off a specie?

Kudos to NRDC and a few others who are putting this terrible political move on the front page of their websites. Kudos to Senator Ben Cardin and others who are fighting to see this rider removed. You might note that other well known conservation groups are silent on this. Why? I have my reasons but you'd need to ask them yourself.

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