10:05 PM

Poison Pill Amendments Added to Senate Sportsmen’s Bill


Amendments impact gray wolves, United States waterways and protection of predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska


CONTACT: Haley McKey, 202-772-0247, hmckey@defenders.org

Washington (January 20, 2016)–Three poison pill amendments were added to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 when S. 659 passed through markup in the Environment and Public Works Committee this morning. These damaging anti-wildlife amendments include a provision which would strip Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region; a provision prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from blocking anti-predator measures proposed by the State of Alaska for bears, wolves and other carnivores on national wildlife refuges in that state; and a provision which guts existing Clean Water Act protections that safeguard our nation’s waterways from avoidable pesticide pollution. Please see our background section for more information.

The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“These amendments are, quite simply, legislative poison pills. They are damaging to the laws and regulations that protect our wildlife, water and lands. Their addition to the Sportsmen’s bill should give the administration no choice but to veto the legislation.

“Once again, some anti- environmental members of Congress have put the desires of special interest groups and polluting industries before the stewardship of our environment. How else to explain voting yes on an amendment that leaves the door open for pesticide pollution flowing into our nation’s rivers, lakes and streams? Or supporting a measure that would block the Fish and Wildlife Service from prohibiting various unethical predator hunting practices on wildlife refuges in Alaska, like using traps and bait to hunt bears, hunting wolves during their denning season, and even hunting bear cubs and bear sows with young cubs?

“To top it all off, the bill includes an amendment that undermines the Endangered Species Act by reinstating wolf delisting rules that violated the law according to two separate federal judges. It strips away Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region while eliminating citizens’ ability to go to court to challenge these deficient rules. This is only the latest of a constant stream of bills and riders that seek to harm gray wolves and weaken the Endangered Species Act.”


Below are brief descriptions of the harmful amendments included in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015:

• Barrasso Amendment # 1 (Wolves): Senator Barrasso’s amendment directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue two wolf delisting rules that federal courts held were illegal under the Endangered Species Act. It would hand wolf management authority back over to Wyoming whose wolf management plan was found deficient. It would also reward the Fish and Wildlife Service for following a legally deficient process in delisting wolves in the Great Lakes. In addition, the amendment blocks judicial review of the faulty federal rules, thus preventing citizens from challenging the delisting of wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The appeals processes on two federal court decisions affecting wolves in these states are still underway, making damaging Congressional micromanagement of the ESA listings and related court decisions particularly untimely.

• Sullivan Amendment #1 (National Wildlife Refuges Rule in Alaska): Senator Sullivan’s amendment would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from finalizing a rule to regulate non-subsistence hunting of wolves, bears and other large carnivores on national wildlife refuges across Alaska. The proposed rule rejects anti-predator recommendations from the state of Alaska that were designed to dramatically suppress carnivores in order to boost game populations. It promotes wildlife conservation by prohibiting certain unethical practices on refuge lands, such as the use of traps or bait in bear hunting, hunting wolves and coyotes during denning season, and hunting bear cubs or bear sows with cubs. The amendment would block the Service from moving the rule forward and would allow such unethical hunting practices to be used.

• Crapo/Carper/Fischer Amendment #1 (Pesticides): This amendment would gut existing Clean Water Act safeguards that protect our streams, rivers, and lakes from excessive pesticide pollution. It would allow the discharge of pesticides into water bodies without meaningful oversight, since the federal pesticide registration law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)) does not require tracking of such applications. Americans rely on the Clean Water Act to protect our rivers, lakes, and streams from pesticides because FIFRA’s mere registration requirements have not and will not protect our waters from these toxic chemicals. Already, nearly two thousand U.S. waterways are contaminated by pesticides.


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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.