It looks like the gray wolf may be a literal casualty of the budget deal. Congress has removed the animal from the Endangered Species List—the first time it's ever done so—and critics are, predictably, howling. A rider to the budget deal states that wolves in Montana and Idaho should be dropped from the list and managed instead by the states' own wildlife agencies. The New York Times notes that the states' management plan OKs hunts of the animal.
A federal judge had recently barred the Interior Department adopting that plan, but the budget rider, backed by Montana Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, requires the Interior Department to go ahead and do it anyway. Tester is up for re-election in a state whose ranchers and hunters have long been concerned about wolves' effect on livestock and elk and moose herds. "Now, anytime anybody has an issue with an endangered species, they are going to run to Congress and try to get the same treatment the anti-wolf people have gotten," says a regional director of a wildlife protection group. Click to read the dramatic back-and-forth of the gray wolf debate. (Read more endangered species stories.)