The Republicans had Clint Eastwood.Maybe the Democrats should invite Bill Murray to their convention this week. Because the Obama administration produced its version of Groundhog Day Friday by removing wolves from the endangered species list in Wyoming.
Just like in the movie, the early-morning alarm clock went off for the Northern Rockies and Sonny and Cher began singing I Got You Babe. In this case, the environmental rhetoric machine cranked up and brought back disappointed wolf lovers favorite lines.
This administration is rewinding the clock and setting wolf recovery back at least a decade based on the numbers alone, said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal should be to sustain a fully recovered wolf population, not put it right back on life support.
Earthjustice, the environmental law firm that brought the last lawsuit against delisting of wolves in the Northern Rockies, really has no choice but try to get U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to repeat his performance.
And the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which has cut its ties to many of the traditional conservation groups over the wolf issue, applauded. This decision now puts wolves in the same category as most other wildlife, returning them to their proper place under state management, said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.
The environmentalists say this decision is political. But I cant figure out what the Obama administration expects to gain politically by making this decision at this time. The president is never going to win Wyoming.
This wont change a single vote in Montana and will, instead, likely bring the wolf issue back onto the front burner across the region. And like Phil Connors, Murrays character in Groundhog Day, the administration will likely find itself reliving a familiar nightmare as Molloy tosses out the delisting rule again.
Then it will have to go back to the drawing board and do it all again. And Congress will once again weigh in and, well, you know what happens. The alarm goes off and Sonny and Cher are on the radio.
The agreement reached between Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar allows Wyoming to treat wolves as pests in large areas of the state most of the year. It settled for a flex zone along the Idaho border, where wolves will be managed as a trophy game animal from Oct. 15 to the end of February to provide for wolf dispersal.
People on both sides of the wolf issue could learn from Murray's character, by talking right now about how they might be able to get it right this time. That would mean cutting a deal that would be more like would management in Idaho and Montana.
If the Obama administration simply was thinking about politics, it would not reward GOP states like Wyoming with wolf delisting or Idaho with a $1.3 million expansion grant for the Lewiston Port. Both decisions disappointed his environmentalist base.
Those same environmentalists are hoping for a bold act that can demonstrate that Obama is willing to stand up for their values like Bill Clinton did in 1996 by designating the Grand Staircase Escalante as a national monument.
They might as well be talking to an empty chair.
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
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