Called on the carpet
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.