“Wolf Control Board” Signed into Law: Green Lights Unsustainable Wolf Killing in Idaho

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 27, 2014

Contact: Nancy Gloman; NGloman@defenders.org; 202-281-9542

“Wolf Control Board” Signed into Law: Green Lights Unsustainable Wolf Killing in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho – Governor “Butch” Otter has signed into law a bill authorizing a newly-created wolf control board to implement widespread wolf killing throughout the state. The wolf control board, proposed by Otter in January, is funded with an initial $400,000 from taxpayers and is charged with killing hundreds of Idaho’s wolves, driving Idaho’s current wolf population of 500-600 down to as low as 150 animals. The board is expected to receive $400,000 from taxpayers annually for the next four years.

The law establishes a five-member oversight board – separate from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and state wildlife agency. All taxpayer funding will be used exclusively for lethal wolf management – strategies like the aerial gunning of wolves which Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and the federal agency Wildlife Services announced they used in February to kill 23 gray wolves in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border. Non-lethal methods like fencing and range riders will not be considered by the board even though these are more effective and less expensive.

Defenders of Wildlife Vice President of Field Conservation Programs, Nancy Gloman, issued the following statement: 

“Idaho’s elected officials and state agencies have declared a war on wolves. When Congress handed wolf management over to Idaho in 2011, they said they would manage wolves like other valued species, but they’re blowing it.

“State legislators have repeatedly told the press their goal is to drive Idaho’s current wolf population down to one hundred and fifty, which thrusts the species perilously close to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s threshold for consideration of relisting under the Endangered Species Act. State officials are treating minimum federal population standards like a population cap, instead of as the lowest requirement necessary for survival of wolves in Idaho."

Background:  Idaho is the core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. Ensuring healthy wolf populations in Idaho is critical for the recovery of wolves throughout the entire Northern Rockies region. Idaho is home to approximately 3,000 mountain lions, 20,000 black bears, 45,000 coyotes and hundreds of thousands of elk and deer. In the spring of 2009, when wolves were still federally protected in Idaho, the state wolf population peaked at more than 1000 wolves – still a low number in comparison to other normal healthy predator populations in the state. Since congressional delisting in 2011, Idaho officials have used aerial gunning, hunting, trapping, and snaring to reduce the population to approximately 500 – 600 wolves at the end of 2013. The official state wolf population report for 2013 is expected to be released next month.

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Photo: Joel Sartore
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