Senate panel approves federal pay for wolf kills

Washington, DC – Legislation to compensate livestock owners
whose animals are killed by wolves is one step closer to passage.

A Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming to approve federal matching money for state trust funds that pay ranchers for those losses.

The Bush administration has objected to the bill, saying the payments should be a state responsibility.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has pushed to remove gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The federal agency wants to turn wolf management over to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, where an estimated 1,500 wolves roam.

A federal judge in Montana this summer blocked efforts to turn management over to the states.