This Week in Washington

by Public Lands Council
WOLVES MOVE INTO 12-MONTH STATUS REVIEW
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced their findings related to two petitions filed by activist groups that sought to restore Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the western United States – the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment (NRM DPS). 
After review of these petitions, the FWS found that while there is not sufficient information to justify an emergency listing of the NRM DPS, there is sufficient information to trigger a 12-month status review of the species’ recovery status. This determination is based at least in part, on the use of hunting seasons in several western states that have been used as a population control tool.
It is important to note that the previously-designated NRM DPS is not part of the ongoing litigation in the Northern District of California that has challenged the FWS’s delisting of gray wolves in the lower-48 states, since the NRM DPS was delisted independently. It is, however, likely to be discussed concurrently as these same activist groups have urged the FWS to create a new DPS to include wolves from the recovered NRM DPS into a new DPS that includes wolves from the Pacific Northwest as part of their strategy to make it more difficult for the USFWS to defend their delisting rules. 
While PLC is disappointed to see the Service take this step, we will continue to defend gray wolf delisting in this case and in all others where the wolf is clearly recovered.
POLITICAL FOOTBALL OR AGENCY EFFICIENCY?
This week the Bureau of Land Management decided to relocate its headquarters to Washington, D.C. In a normal time, this decision would be tagged as potentially disruptive. During historic drought and the peak of wildfire season? This decision is dangerously irresponsible. 
“More than 5.5 million acres of land have burned in catastrophic wildfires so far this year. From Arizona to Minnesota, 14 states are experiencing extreme drought that has thrown thousands of rural communities into crisis. In a normal season, we would find this relocation decision disappointing — in the middle of immense and immediate threats to public lands ecosystems, wildlife, businesses, and residents, it is dangerously irresponsible,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover.
“Unfortunately, the BLM’s operations suffered as a result of their move to Grand Junction, C.O. and the subsequent uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Implementing another move now, when the time and attention of the BLM staff is more needed than ever, is a step Western communities cannot afford. The BLM should be prioritizing time-sensitive land management improvements, not playing political football with their mailing address.”
PLC SEEKS COMMENTS ON BALD AND GOLDEN EAGLE INCIDENTAL TAKE 
This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced they are opening a public comment period on how the agency can improve the permitting process for incidental take of bald and golden eagles. Ranchers know the permitting process is likely due for some significant reconsideration, particularly after they see the significant impacts during calving and lambing season. The 45-day public comment period closes on October 29, 2021. 
Want more details on how you can provide information to FWS? Visit PLC’s comment period tracker!
Comments will be accepted online only – not by email or fax. Should you need assistance submitting comments, please contact Kaitlynn Glover (kglover@beef.org).

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