Wolves in Idaho Poisoned by Deadly 1080

Defenders Offers Reward for Information

(01/31/2000) - Defenders of Wildlife today reacted to the news that wildlife in Idaho are being illegally poisoned by offering a $2500 reward in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Four animals, including two federally endangered wolves, a fox, and a rancher’s dog, have been killed on federal forest land in this area within the last year.

“I can think of no more cowardly act than to indiscriminately spread poison baits so that animals will ingest them and die," said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. “Not only are the individuals responsible for these acts killing endangered wildlife, they’re also endangering any animal that comes in contact with the poison, including house pets and possibly even children."

The FWS’s National Forensics Lab in Oregon performed necropsies on the two wolves recovered from the Panther Creek and Myers Cove area, and confirmed 1080 poisoning as the cause of death. Officials warned that 1080 poisoning could affect any species, including humans, that come in contact with it by ingestion or through wounds or skin abrasions. Livestock owners and outdoor enthusiasts are being warned to be extra cautious when in this region of Idaho.

Defenders worked diligently to ban 1080 use in the 1970's and later in the 1980's because of the cruel and unusual manner in which it kills. 1080 is one of the most deadly poisons in the world. Odorless and tasteless, it effects the cardiac and central nervous systems and causes convulsions, vomiting, spinal pressure, renal failure, and eventual organ failure. 1080 is deadly to humans, and there is no known antidote.

“The recent anti-wolf propaganda and wolf smear campaigns being run by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association certainly may have served as a catalyst for illegal actions such as this," said Schlickeisen. “You can’t go around spreading false information about wolves and then claim no responsibility when things like this happen. We hold these two agricultural associations just as responsible as whoever is doing the actual poisoning."

In the two weeks following a Denver appeals court decision to allow the wolves in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho to remain, numerous regional newspapers in Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona carried anti-wolf letters, opinion pieces, and articles, many by representatives of the Farm Bureau, Cattleman’s Association, and allied organizations such as the Paragon Foundation. Defenders charges that such inflammatory and unfounded information is, in part, responsible for the recent Idaho poisonings.

“The information being offered by these anti-wolf groups is just plain wrong," said Bob Ferris, Vice President for Species Conservation at Defenders. “They’re attacking us, they’re attacking our compensation program through which we have bent over backwards to address the concerns of the ranching community, and now someone is attacking the wolves."

Defenders of Wildlife maintains its $200,000 Wolf Compensation Trust to compensate ranchers for losses due to wolves. Established in 1987, the Trust now covers Arizona and New Mexico, Yellowstone, central Idaho, and expanding areas where wolves are starting to disperse out of reintroduction areas.

In addition to compensation, Defenders has been working on preventative measures such as paying cowboys to ride herd, purchasing guard dogs, and buying and installing electric fences. Defenders also has contributed more than $20,000 for research on techniques to prevent wolf predation on domestic livestock.

“It’s one thing to disagree with us about wolf reintroduction," said Schlickeisen. “But it’s a whole other ballgame when you start using a highly dangerous and illegal substance to kill endangered species. We will offer our reward and whatever other assistance we can provide until those responsible are caught."

Killing an endangered species is punishable by law, with a penalty of up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270