Idaho's War on Wolves Escalates

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 4, 2014

Contact:  Suzanne Stone, Senior Rockies and Plains Representative, Defenders of Wildlife (208) 861-4655 sstone@defenders.org

BOISE, Idaho – On Friday, February 28, Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced that, working together with Wildlife Services, they succeeded in gunning down 23 gray wolves from a helicopter in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border. The state agency said this killing was necessary to boost elk harvest levels in the area, despite independent scientific peer reviewers’ observations that habitat loss, not predator influence, was the major factor in this localized elk herd decline.

Wildlife Services is currently the object of a formal review being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General for effectiveness, justifiability and transparency, yet when asked by Defenders of Wildlife in emails on the subject prior to Idaho Fish and Game’s announcement, neither agency revealed its aerial gunning mission that resulted in the deaths of 23 wolves in the state. Defenders is now requesting that a moratorium be placed upon Wildlife Services’ killings of wolves and other top predators  until the Inspector General has completed its audit of the agency’s programs.

Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife Senior Rockies and Plains Representative, and Idaho resident, provided the following statement on the issue:

“This concealed aerial gunning program is just the latest in a series of egregious actions by the state of Idaho and Wildlife Services to irresponsibly drive down the wolf population in Idaho. For example, in January, Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced a new predation management plan, which would enable the agency to kill up to 60 percent of the wolves living in the Middle Fork Zone which includes the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area in order to inflate elk populations. The Frank Church Wilderness is the nation’s largest forested wilderness area set aside by Congress as a sanctuary for wildlife to be “untrammeled by man.” There is no livestock there and no excuses that can justify this persecution.

“These actions are a preview of the type of wolf killing that could occur on an even larger scale if Governor “Butch” Otter’s proposed lethal wolf control board is approved by the legislature. If the proposed legislation is enacted establishing this board, Governor Otter will have a green light to wipe out most of the wolves in the state, using tools like Wildlife Service’s  aerial gunning program to accomplish it.

“These agencies are leading the charge against wolves in Idaho by using increasingly aggressive tactics to undermine the American people’s restoration of this species in our national forests and wilderness areas. Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Wildlife Services are killing for killing's sake. There is no rational need for this eradication. USDA Wildlife Services, whose mission it is to help people and wildlife coexist, should not be killing wolves and other predators in a scientifically unsupported attempt to artificially boost game populations. The state of Idaho is proving beyond any doubt that Congress made a mistake when federal protections for wolves were removed in Idaho just three years ago.”

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

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