Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Cravaack wants wolf control after he voted to cut it

Isle Royale wolf print (next to size 11 boot)
Six months ago, Rep. Chip Cravaack voted to zero out the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wolf control program. Yesterday, Cravaack commended the Department of Agriculture for continuing to fund the wolf control program.

The wolf control program is part of the tricky balance in managing interactions between a top predator and humans. In the absence of the program, unless the timber wolf is delisted as a federally protected species, the State of Minnesota is unable to do anything to control wolves that harass or kill livestock. The timber wolf is scheduled to be delisted at the end of the year, which would allow Minnesota to create a similar program. But there's always a possibility that legal action will delay it, as it has before.

Unlike western states like Montana and Idaho where hostile state government officials are itching to declare war on wolves as soon as delisting occurs, there's hope for a more reasonable approach in Minnesota. Minnesota has more wolves, but more contiguous publicly-owned wilderness and less livestock in the area where the wolves live. The wolf control program and a state program that compensates people for wolf losses strike a balance between protecting wolves and protecting property.

This episode is particularly emblematic of how Cravaack operates. He loves to talk a tough game about how he is a spending hawk, but as soon as one of his cuts impacts the 8th district, he starts to whistle a different tune. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also voted for the continuing resolution that cut the wolf control program. But to her credit, she worked hard to pressure the USDA to continue the program.

This is the second time in a matter of weeks that Rep. Cravaack has seemingly forgotten that he voted to cut a program that he's expressing support for. Whether it's wildland fire fighting, cutting subsidies to small airports that serve his district, or a wolf control program, Cravaack cuts first and explains that he didn't mean to later.

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