Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt was called
before the House Resources Committee Jan. 26 to defend the
government's $6.7 million wolf restoration program. Republicans,
who now dominate the committee, charged that state and individual
rights have been subordinated to the federally protected wolves. "I
strongly believe, Mr. Secretary, that not only have your wolves
trespassed onto the lands of Idaho, your agencies have trespassed
onto the Constitution of the United States, the supreme law of the
land," said freshman Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho. Babbitt said
that the plan was presented at 120 public meetings and that 170,000
people commented, with most applauding the return of wolves to the
West. "Seventy percent of visitors to Yellowstone supported wolf
reintroduction in 1992," he said, and, "more residents in Wyoming,
Idaho, and Montana support wolf reintroduction than oppose it."
Babbitt said wolves were the only missing component of the park's
ecosystem, and were needed to control the soaring elk population.
Chenoweth suggested allowing hunting in the park instead. Committee
chairman Don Young, R-Alaska, added that further funding for
bringing back wolves would be scrutinized.