GOP seeks changes to species law after grizzly hunts halted

ABC News | 9/26/2018 | Staff
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Galvanized by court rulings protecting grizzly bears and gray wolves, Congressional Republicans on Wednesday launched a push for sweeping changes to the Endangered Species Act despite strong objections from Democrats and wildlife advocates who called the effort a "wildlife extinction package."

Republicans began with a morning vote in the House Natural Resource Committee to strip protections from wolves across the contiguous U.S.

Courts - Safeguards - Wolves - Great - Lakes

Courts restored safeguards for wolves in the Great Lakes region in 2014, frustrating states that had been allowing hunts to control wolf populations.

Later Wednesday, lawmakers took up changes to the endangered species law itself with a suite of bills that critics labeled a "wildlife extinction package."

Momentum - Change - Act - President - Donald

Momentum for change to the 1973 act has been building since President Donald Trump took office last year. Adding impetus to the effort was a court ruling Monday in Montana that restored protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park, putting on hold grizzly hunts that had been planned in Wyoming and Idaho.

"This ruling in Montana to me is the prime example of why Congress should modernize the Endangered Species Act," said Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican. "The grizzly bear has been fully recovered for 10 years. Even the Obama administration said so."

Barrasso - Changes - Act - Legislation - Species

Barrasso said he prefers broad changes to the act rather than legislation on individual species. He's drafted legislation that includes a provision to block courts from intervening in decisions to lift protections for five years after those decisions are made.

Other Republican proposals would speed up the process deciding if species need protections, provide conservation incentives to landowners and give state, local and tribal governments more power in species decisions.

Hunts - Wyoming - Idaho - Members - Public

The hunts in Wyoming and Idaho would have been the first allowing members of the public with licenses to shoot bears in the contiguous U.S. since...
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