High Country News
By Heather Hansen, Red Lodge Clearing House
As darkness blanketed the land, two cunning predators made their move. Their thirst for blood was intense and, when the opportunity presented itself, they sunk their canines into the soft underbelly of their prey. This eager hunting pair–Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)–have doggedly pursued gray wolves all the way to the capitol, where they slyly inserted language removing endangered species protections for the animals in their home states, into the 11th-hour budget bill pending before Congress.
That announcement came just prior to news on Saturday that a federal judge in Montana tossed a proposed settlement between 10 conservation groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which would have removed protection from gray wolves in Idaho and Montana but allowed for close monitoring of those populations. It was an odd agreement, seeing as how the groups had already won the argument, but the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and others claimed the move was the “lesser of two evils,” hoping that the compromise would sway Tester and Simpson to abandon their personal wolf hunt.