Senate Committee Passes Anti-Wildlife Package with Poison Pills, Strips Wolves of Federal Protections

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today added several poison pill provisions to the so-called Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, S. 659, which already threatened the interests of wildlife, conservation and public lands, but now is an even more extreme measure.

Among other harmful provisions, the bill now strips wolves of their federal protections in four states under the Endangered Species Act, subverting the judicial process and subjecting hundreds of wolves to hostile state practices such as baiting, hound hunting, and painful steel-jawed leghold traps. It also blocks federal wildlife officials from making decisions about cruel and inhumane predator control practices on Alaska’s national wildlife refuges.

In response to the EPW vote, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States said: “This was already an awful bill, but now it’s an appalling one — undermining the federal courts and removing federal protections for endangered wolves, denying proper oversight of toxic lead in the environment, blocking carefully considered rulemaking to protect animals on national wildlife refuges, among other destructive provisions.  This bill is a grab bag of miscellaneous items that the trophy hunting lobby cannot secure in free standing bills, and Congress should give it a quick, clean kill shot.”

A few of the harmful provisions included in S. 659 are as follows:


Just last month, Congress rejected a rider to the end-of-year spending bill that would have removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes states and Wyoming. Today, the committee adopted by voice vote an amendment by Senator Barrasso, R-WY, to accomplish the same. This proposal would both subvert judicial processes and undermine the ESA, one of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws. When wolves were delisted in 2012, 20 percent of the Wisconsin population was wiped out in three hunting seasons, including 17 entire family units. In a three year period, more than 1,500 wolves were killed in the Great Lakes states alone. It is clear that federal oversight is necessary to provide adequate protections for gray wolves as required by the ESA.copyrighted wolf in water

AK Predator Control

An amendment proposed by Senator Dan Sullivan, R-AK, and adopted on a straight party-line vote would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from issuing a rule and going through a public process on cruel predator control methods like the trapping and baiting of wolves and bears in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges.


The bill contains troubling provisions that relate to the use of lead ammunition, at a time when non-toxic ammunition is available to all hunters, and is less harmful to wild animals, land, and human health. The committee rejected a common sense amendment by Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, that would have narrowed the exemption for sport fishing equipment from the Toxic Controlled Substances Act to focus on lead content. Senator Boxer’s amendment would have required periodic reports by the Environmental Protection Agency on the health impacts of lead in fishing equipment.

Polar Bears

A provision of the bill would roll back the Marine Mammal Protection Act and provide a sweetheart deal to help 41 wealthy polar bear trophy hunters import the heads of rare polar bears they shot in Canada. The animals were not shot for their meat, but just for trophies and bragging rights. It’s the latest in a series of these import allowances for polar bear hunters, and it encourages trophy hunters to kill rare species around the world and then wait for a congressional waiver to bring back their trophies. The committee today rejected an amendment by Sen. Boxer that offered a sensible middle ground on this issue, and would have allowed the import of 41 questionable polar bear trophies, while making absolutely clear that the one-time carve-out is not intended to set a precedent.


8 thoughts on “Senate Committee Passes Anti-Wildlife Package with Poison Pills, Strips Wolves of Federal Protections

  1. Is this terrible tragedy any surprise to those of us trying to save remaining wild species? And to those groups, who “work with” “genuflect to the “sportsmen” your compromises with the hunting, ranching and trapping lobbies–guess what?–we hold you accountable for this barbaric legislation. You compromise groups try to appease the hunting/ranching lobby and this is what you get. Or, to be more clear: this is what the wildlife get.
    How many shallow -thinking people, who support the “liberal” Bernie Sanders adore him? He has been supporting hunting during his campaign.

    This tragedy I hope (but I could be wrong), will finally wake some of these comprise groups to STOP Compromising. The lesson we should learn from the Occupation of Mulheur Wildlife Refuge? These people DO NOT BACK DOWN. At least The HSUS saw that this was an awful bill from the start.

  2. Has the country gone crazy? (Yes.) I just don’t know what to make of this reversal, and people reverting to their worst, violent and savage selves (except when the Bundy family says jump, the government says how high, Sir Bundy?). What’s the next step with this? I think these people are truly desperate to get this done before the election. Where’s the Interior Dept. hiding?

  3. Considering the history, this is tragic but not surprising. No matter how many people answer polls saying they are opposed to hunting, they do not have the passion, funding, or organization that the killers have. Some of the main supporters of this bill are the NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and The National Wild Turkey Federation. The USFWS, the state departments of fish and wildlife, and the BLM will be happy to do their bidding in making land and animals available.

    Even hunting, which was in decline for a while, is coming back as the NRA and other groups try to indoctrinate kids as early as five in weapon bearing and shooting. The Paleo diet movement also seems to be contributing, as people like Mark Zuckerberg claim to only eat the meat they acquire by transforming the living into the dead.

    This is the same trajectory of all animal rights activism. We try, we make some small progress, but then are overruled by the big money and the abusers. There are not enough serious and dedicated advocates, enough motivation to sacrifice the time or resources necessary, enough money to buy votes, or enough activists to threaten withdrawal of support for noncompliance by legislators. Sad for the animals we want to help and cannot.

  4. It’s kind of freaking me out to see what lengths hunters will go to to continue to be able to kill and hunt for reasons other than food. I’ll bet you next we’ll hear how they indeed do have recipes for coyotes and wolves and polar bears. These are very broken people. Wish we could come up with some sort of virtual wilderness, toss them in, lock the door and throw away the key. I’m sick and tired of them ruining my day.

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