First, let me say that it was good to see the NRA finally realize that the organization does have a dog in the wolf fight. I ran the NRA press release on the organization's coalition with the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club, and Safari Club International to address this issue. I published it on a new blog I've just added...
In the release, it states that the "coalition supports all four pending bills in the House and Senate to move recovered wolf populations to state management."
Unfortunately, the fact is that the Tester-Baucus approach, to have the wolf only delisted in Montana and Idaho, actually fights or opposes the Hatch-Rehberg legislation, which would have the wolf removed from the Endangered Species List, and the right to manage wolves turned over to the state wildlife agencies in any state that already has wolves or states where wolves may move into in the future. My understanding is that the Tester-Baucus bill encompasses only a 5-year period... possibly spending $25-million during that period to monitor wolf numbers and wolf impact on big game, with wolf management still under the directives and control of the Department of the Interior...and at the end of that 5-year period, wolf management could be handed right back over to the federal government - and the entire wolf fiasco would begin all over again.
An extremely large number of sportsmen in the Northern Rockies think the Tester-Baucus legislation is nothing more than a band aid slapped on a compound fracture injury to our wildlife resources...legislation that is far more supportive of the anti-hunting agenda of organizations like the Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, and pseudo "wildlife federations" such as the Montana Wildlife Federation, than it is the American hunter and sportsman who has actually funded wildlife conservation in this country.
The NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, and Safari Club International need to fully support legislation that effectively offers relief from the wolf problem. The legislation drafted by Montana Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus only offer a temporary solution to a very big danger to wildlife populations in this country. Utah Senator Orin Hatch's bill, S. 249, and Montana Representative Denny Rehberg's resolution, H.R. 509, are the pieces of legislation with the clout to get the job done, and to keep wolves under the management of individual states.
When I was a kid, I often flip flopped back and forth on issues. One day an old friend in his 70s told me, "Boy, you can't always ride the fence...if you do, all you'll end up with is a rusty crack!"
I think the NRA and the other organizations in the recently established coalition must choose which dog in this fight they are going to cheer onward. This is one issue on which you cannot ride the fence. There is no complacent compromise...where you win one way or the other. Please keep this in mind, just a couple of years ago the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was losing membership because the organization had not vehemently opposed what wolves were doing to elk populations in the Northern Rockies. Since, they have truthfully become the national organization that is doing the most to fight this issue...and now their membership has grown to a record level.
Should the Tester-Bucus legislation pass, and wolves are only delisted in Montana and Idaho, my guess is that there will be many, many sportsmen in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, especially Wyoming, and Utah, and Oregon, and Washington, and New Mexico, and a few other states, who will question why the NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, and Safari Club International did not choose to only support and push the legislation that would have also allowed their state wildlife agencies to properly control wolf numbers.
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