Missoulian: Tester amends federal budget bill to declare wolves recovered in Montana, Idaho

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has inserted language into the Senate’s Continuing Resolution – the bill that funds the entire national budget – declaring the gray wolf a recovered species in Montana and Idaho

The $1.077 trillion, seven-month spending bill is expected to reach a full Senate vote on Tuesday, and then return to the House of Representatives.

“Jon pushed for this because wolves need to be managed by Montanans who know best how to keep them under control,” Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy said on Friday. “This provision delists Montana wolves and returns their management to our state.”

Tester’s provision is identical to a line item Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, put in the House budget bill in February. It’s also virtually the same as a proposal Tester and fellow Democratic Sen. Max Baucus introduced as a stand-alone bill three weeks ago.

But it’s different from Rep. Denny Rehberg’s bill, which would remove the gray wolf entirely from Endangered Species Act protection.

Tester’s request would reinstate a 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that formally delisted the wolf and moved it to state management. It would also declare that decision off-limits from further court review.

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