Congress approved Senator Jon Tester’s plan to remove gray wolves in Montana from the Endangered Species List and return their management to the state. The bipartisan measure now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.

“This is more than a victory for Montana,” said Senator Tester (D-Mont.), Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “It’s a win for rural America, for jobs, and for our wildlife—and it’s what’s right for the wolves themselves. This was never going to get done with partisan games or grandstanding. We fixed this problem with Montana values—by putting aside our differences and working together on a responsible, common sense plan.

Tester also credited Representative Mike Simpson for his leadership on this issue in the House of Representatives.

Governor Brian Schweitzer welcomed the delisting of the wolf in Montana:
“This is a common sense measure that will ensure good management of wolves through Montana’s existing plan, which allows for healthy numbers of wolves and safeguards the interests of ranchers and sportsmen.”

Gray wolves in the northern Rockies met their recovery goals in 2002 and wolves were delisted in 2009 in Montana and Idaho. After a judge’s ruling against Montana’s wolf management plan last year, Tester fought to put wolves back under the management of the state.

The language, by Tester and Simpson, R-Idaho, restores a 2009 rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that delisted Montana’s and Idaho’s wolves. The language also clarifies a 2010 ruling on Wyoming’s management plan. This allows the State of Wyoming to move forward with its own plan to delist wolves.

Tester is also the author of the bipartisan Wolf Kill Bill, which repays Montana ranchers the full market value of animals killed by wolves and helps ranchers prevent future wolf attacks.