Farm Bureau Delegates Give Death Sentence to Yellowstone Wolves

(01/15/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife charges that a resolution passed this week by delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF) annual convention sets an impossible goal by demanding "removal of the Canadian wolves and their offspring from [Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho] and returning them to their original habitat in Canada."

"The resolution is a misleading, ludicrous PR ploy," says Defenders president Rodger Schlickeisen, who had challenged AFBF leaders to put their wolf policy to a vote. "The Farm Bureau, an anti-environmental agribusiness and insurance giant, knows full well that Canada will not take back the wolves and that even if they did, most of the wolves would die anyway because their old territories are now occupied by other wolf packs. If heeded, the AFBF resolution would constitute a death sentence for these magnificent animals, and if more Farm Bureau members knew that, the voting results would change."

In December 1997, AFBF won a U.S. District Court ruling which concluded that the Interior Department improperly introduced an "experimental population" of gray wolves into the park and central Idaho and that the wolves must be removed. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt subsequently testified before a House appropriations subcommittee that "if this court decision is not overturned. . . [wolves] would have to be taken and killed ... Canada will not take the wolves back. . . .The response from zoos was, ‘We have more wolves in zoos than we know what to do with.'"

Sydney Butler, executive director of the American Zoological Association (AZA), confirmed the lack of space in zoos in a recent letter to Schlickeisen in which he said, "On behalf of the 184 accredited institution members of AZA, I wish to advise you that placement of these wolves in AZA zoos is not a viable option."

"This is one more feeble attempt by the Farm Bureau to convince their members and the American public that removal of the Yellowstone and central Idaho wolves will not mean death for the animals," Schlickeisen says. "The Farm Bureau needs to be honest and admit to the terrible consequences of its actions."



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270