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For Immediate Release, April 12, 2011

Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Tester, Simpson Sneak Wolf-killing Rider Into Budget Bill

Precedent-setting Move Would Strip Endangered Species Act Protection From Wolves in
Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon

WASHINGTON— Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) today placed a rider on the must-pass federal budget bill that removes wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the federal endangered species list and sets the stage for near-term delisting in Wyoming. The rider bans citizens from challenging the wolf delisting decision while preserving anti-wolf litigation brought by the state of Wyoming and others.

The rider was approved by Democratic and Republican leadership. The budget bill is expected to be voted on Thursday.

One of the most vulnerable Democratic senators in the upcoming 2012 elections, Tester is running three points behind Republican Denny Rehberg, a strident opponent of wolf recovery. Tester is pushing to eliminate federal wolf protection to boost his sagging poll numbers.

“With Democrats like Tester, who needs Republicans?” asked Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Jon Tester’s job creation agenda is concerned with only one job — his own. With the help of the White House and Senate leader Harry Reid, he has sacrificed wolves and the Endangered Species Act to cynical, self-interested politics.”

In the 38-year history of the Endangered Species Act, Congress has never intervened to override the law and remove a plant or animal from federal protection.

“Tester’s rider is not only a disaster for wolf recovery, it opens the door for every self-interested politician to try to strip protection away from local endangered species,” said Suckling. “It encourages weak-link Democrats to hold the entire party hostage to their local agendas.”

“We’ll fight this rider to the bitter end, but the chances of killing it are slim, especially since the rejection of our legal settlement with the Department of the Interior took away our only leverage to rally senators against the rider,” Suckling said.

Last Saturday, a federal judge rejected a settlement agreement that would have sidetracked the wolf controversy by: staying a previous court order; maintaining protection for wolves in Washington, Oregon and Utah; establishing an independent science panel on wolf recovery in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming; and preserving the right of citizens to challenge future wolf delisting decisions.

“Tens of millions of dollars were spent building up the wolf population in the northern Rockies and giving wolves a toehold in Washington and Oregon. Now, in one fell swoop, that investment is being swept away. Wolves in Washington and Oregon may disappear in a few years. Those in the northern Rockies will begin plummeting and may be lost in a few decades,” said Suckling.

Tester’s rider reads as follows:

“SEC. 1713. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15123 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming in Case Numbers 09–CV–118J and 09–CV–138J on November 18, 2010.”

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