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Outstanding Christopher Ketcham story on the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act and the plans to wipe them out in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

There is much that is disturbing–people’s hatred of wolves, the incredible and damaging power of the ranching industry in the West, the ignorance of ecology that clearly shows a more healthy ecosystem with wolves at the top of the food chain. But this really got my goat:

“Democrats have never in the entire history of the ESA let bills like this go through,” says Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “In the past, no matter how aggressive the Republicans have been about undermining the ESA, we have been able to rely on Democrats to put up an aggressive fight, threaten to veto legislation, and wage a public campaign to defend the ESA.”

Then, almost overnight, the Democratic position changed. According to multiple sources, Salazar and Tester put together a deal to let delisting go forward in Congress. “Tester convinced the White House that his re-election campaign would be in jeopardy without the delisting,” Suckling says. “We heard this in very high-level conversations with Tester’s people and with Interior.” Salazar, according to sources, argued that he couldn’t get the wolf delisted administratively due to the lawsuits, so Congress needed to take action. (Salazar declined interview requests for this story.)

Effectively, Obama agreed to delist the wolf to save Jon Tester’s Senate seat. That’s pretty depressing. It’s quite clear that Obama does not care one whit about issues around western lands and wildlife. That’s not to say he’s an anti-environmental president; after all, he at least kind of tried to pass legislation to crack down on climate change. But he’s been very hands off with Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, letting conservative western interests set many policies. But this is the best evidence for my theory–gutting the ESA in order to save a senator is not something Democrats are supposed to do.

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