U.S. House Votes to End Federal Protection for Gray Wolves, Bill Faces Uncertain Future in Senate

U.S. House votes to remove federal protection for gray wolves, sparking debate over conservation and local interests. Biden administration opposes the move, citing lack of species recovery.

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Nitish Verma
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U.S. House Votes to End Federal Protection for Gray Wolves, Bill Faces Uncertain Future  in Senate

U.S. House Votes to End Federal Protection for Gray Wolves, Bill Faces Uncertain Future in Senate

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 209-205 on Wednesday to end federal protection for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, approving a Republican-authored bill that would remove the animals from the endangered species list. The measure now goes to the Senate, but the Biden administration has expressed opposition to it, warning that Congress should not play a role in determining whether a species has recovered.

The debate over the wolves' future has been ongoing, with hunters and farmers arguing that the population is stable and wanting to be allowed to legally kill the animals, while conservationists insist the population remains fragile after being hunted to near-extinction. In 2011, Congress removed wolves from the endangered species list in the northern Rocky Mountains, and the Trump administration later removed them from the list across the rest of the country in 2020. However, a federal judge later blocked the change except in the northern Rockies.

Republicans argued that the wolf population has clearly recovered and ending protections should be celebrated as a conservation success. "These wolves are not endangered," said Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis. "We should be celebrating the recovery of this species." Democrats countered that the species still needs help and that lifting protections would allow hunters to push wolves to near extinction again. "This bill is a travesty for our wildlife," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.

Why this matters: The fate of gray wolves has been a contentious issue, with conservationists arguing that the species remains vulnerable and needs continued protection, while hunters and farmers maintain that wolf populations have recovered enough to be managed through regulated hunting. The House vote reflects the ongoing debate over how to balance wildlife conservation with the interests of local communities and industries.

The House approved the bill 209-205, with four Democrats joining Republicans in voting for it. However, the bill's prospects in the Senate are uncertain due to the Biden administration's opposition. In a statement, the White House said it "strongly opposes" the legislation and that the Fish and Wildlife Service has found that "the gray wolf has not yet recovered" and warned that Congress should "respect the science-based decision-making process of the Endangered Species Act."

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. House voted 209-205 to remove federal protection for gray wolves in 48 states.
  • Debate over wolf recovery: Hunters/farmers want legal hunting, conservationists say population remains fragile.
  • Republicans argue wolf population has recovered, Democrats say species still needs protection.
  • Bill now goes to Senate, but Biden administration opposes it, citing lack of full recovery.
  • House vote reflects ongoing debate over balancing wildlife conservation and local interests.