“Anyone who believed when wolves were reintroduced that we weren’t going to have to actively manage these species was living in a fantasy world.” – Congressman Mike Simpson
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson talked sage-grouse and wolves this week during hearings on the budget request for the Department of Interior. During the hearing, Simpson, a member of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, responded harshly to criticisms by Democrats of the decision to remove wolves from the endangered species list and Idaho’s management of wolf populations.
“You have got to remember that these wolves were reintroduced as a nonessential, experimental population. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have complied with the requirements when they were reintroduced and it has now gone over to state management,” said Simpson. “ Anyone that believed that we were actually going to reintroduce wolves into this environment and they weren’t going to explode in numbers and that we weren’t going it have to manage them like we do other species, was living in a fantasy world.”
To stress the impact wolves have on ranchers and families in Idaho Simpson told the Committee, “I’ll bring you a picture… and it’s of the 200 sheep that were killed, the five dogs, and the horse that were killed in one night, by wolves in Idaho.”
To watch Simpson express these concerns to the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee today, visit his YouTube website.
Simpson also criticized proposals in the BLM’s budget to dramatically increase fees for grazing on public lands, pointing out that the issue needs to be discussed holistically and not just focused on the fact that fees may be lower on BLM lands than on some state lands. “Just comparing the prices of what we charge for AUMs on federal lands versus state lands isn’t really a good comparison,” he admonished. “I talk to ranchers who have allotments on both state and federal lands, and they prefer to graze on state lands even though they may cost more because of the headache of dealing with federal agencies and issues on federal lands.”
The rest of Simpson’s comments focused on the approaching September 15 deadline for determining whether the sage-grouse warrants listing as an endangered species. Both BLM Deputy Director Neil Kornze and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe praised the State of Idaho’s efforts in crafting a good state management plan. Simpson pushed the agencies to continue listening to state and local officials.
“You say that the BLM and the Forest Service sit down with the Fish and Wildlife Service regularly in Idaho,” he said, “But are they coordinating with the state people? There is concern that there is agreement in the state but that it gets screwed up when it gets back to DC.”
The House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee oversees the budget for public lands agencies, including the Forest Service, the BLM, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.