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Simpson Talks Wolves, Invasive Species during Fish and Wildlife Budget Hearing

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today questioned Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe regarding invasive species and wolves.  The Director testified to the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which Simpson chairs, regarding the agency’s FY13 budget request.

“In Idaho it is difficult to think of the Fish and Wildlife Service without thinking first and foremost of threatened and endangered species,” Simpson said at the beginning of the hearing.  “Whether it’s to save snails or slickspot peppergrass, the last thing Idahoans want is the federal government telling them what they can’t do on their own land or otherwise disrupting a sustainable way of life they’ve known for generations.  There has got to be a better way to properly balance recovery with people’s livelihoods.”

Simpson questioned the agency regarding funding for wolf management in Idaho and Montana.  Last year Simpson included language in the FY11 continuing resolution that directed the Service to reissue an earlier decision to remove wolves in those states from the endangered species list.  Simpson aims to ensure that the states of Idaho and Montana have adequate funding to defray the costs of ESA requirements to monitor wolf populations for five years post-delisting. 

Chairman Simpson also raised the issue of quagga and zebra mussels, which pose a serious threat to water infrastructure in Idaho.  In FY12, the subcommittee allocated $1 million in the Fish and Wildlife Service budget for mandatory inspections and decontaminations at infested federally-managed water bodies, which the Director indicated would be focused on preventing boats at infested Lake Mead from spreading into Idaho and other western states.

“I’m also concerned that when I meet with stakeholders who do invasive species work on the ground, they complain that very little of the money that is appropriated for these purposes actually gets on the ground,” said Simpson.  “I recognize that this is not necessarily a Fish and Wildlife Service issue; I’m talking about invasive species funding across the board, much of which is in the Department of Interior or USDA.  This subcommittee intends to focus on invasive species in general and how we are spending that money, because ultimately we want the money on the ground, addressing the problem.”