GUEST OPINION BY Jake Cummins
The Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) is extremely disappointed that U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula today set aside the decision by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to delist wolves in the Great Yellowstone Area (GYA).
Montana’s livestock industry, the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, sportsmen, moderate environmental groups and the general public have spent decades and millions of dollars reaching a consensus on wolf management in the GYA. This decision throws all that work out the window and for what? The answer sadly is to satisfy the extreme environmental interests of a small group of activists who are falsely asserting, as they have for years, that wolves are at risk in the tri-state area.
The goal for recovery in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) published in the mid-1990s was 300. In March 2008, when the population was approximately 1,500, the wolf was declared fully recovered by the USFWS. The federal government then sought to remove wolves in the GYA from the Endangered Species List. Environmental groups immediately sued to stop delisting. In the summer of 2008, Judge Molloy granted a temporary injunction stopping delisting until a trial on the merits. In good faith, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation and several other ag and sportsmen’s groups joined the federal government in defending their decision to delist. The trial is over and Judge Molloy has now ruled that because Wyoming was excluded from the distinct population segment, the GYA, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not give the USFWS the authority to delist in that area and any other argument to the contrary is irrelevant.
Everyone in the ranching and sportsmen’s communities, who are most directly affected by this decision, were urged by the government to work with the environmental community to reach a compromise we could all live with. We did, at great financial as well as emotional cost, and now we have been betrayed by this blatant and transparent capitulation of a federal judge to the demands of these same environmental activist organizations, who will continue to reap millions of dollars annually in their now endless campaign to protect a predator no more in danger of extinction then they are.