Idaho announces plan to eliminate at least 22 percent of current population(08/17/2009) -
WASHINGTON, DC. – Today, Idaho Fish and Game announced that beginning September 1, Idaho will allow 220 wolves to be killed in the first-ever state regulated hunt of gray wolves in the continental United States – In response, Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups will most likely file a request for a preliminary injunction to temporarily restore federal protections to the regional wolf population until the court reaches a final decision in the plaintiffs’ pending legal challenge to the delisting.
Idaho’s announcement comes on the heels of Montana’s plan to hunt 75 wolves starting in October. These numbers would be over and above the wolves already killed each year by other means of lethal control, as well as natural deaths. All these actions combined threaten the recovery of the still vulnerable regional wolf population in the Northern Rockies.
The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:
“It is almost beyond comprehension that we find ourselves in this situation, after coming so close to successfully restoring a population of wolves to their natural habitat in the Northern Rockies. Now, due to the ill-advised and overly hasty decision by Secretary Salazar to strip wolves of federal protections before they were fully recovered, the states are free to reduce the wolf population down to 150 per state – a potential loss of over two-thirds of the region’s wolves.”
“The heavy-handed wolf hunt now scheduled by Idaho, together with the hunt planned by Montana, demonstrates precisely the kind of irresponsible state management that should have precluded taking the wolf off the endangered species list at this point in time.”
“Rather than committing to ensure the long-term recovery of wolves, Secretary Salazar’s decision, like that of his predecessor in the Bush administration, has forced us again to ask the court to reverse a delisting rule that threatens to undo the wolf restoration that we have worked so hard for over the years. Hopefully we can make a difference before it is too late.”
The following is a statement by Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:
“We had hoped at this point to be celebrating the recovery of the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies. Instead, after decades of recovery efforts, tremendous support and investment from the American public, impressive efforts by federal, tribal and state wildlife agencies, and one of the most successful wildlife restorations in history, the future of the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountains is once again in serious jeopardy.”
“Idaho hosts the core of the Northern Rockies wolf population, with approximately 1,000 wolves. By wiping out 220 wolves, the state will cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. It’s only a matter of time before Idaho’s state legislature enforces their demand that all wolves be removed ‘by whatever means necessary,’ which is still the state’s official policy on wolves. Today’s announcement underscores the key problem with the federal delisting rule: it only requires maintaining 150 wolves per state. That’s a completely inadequate population goal if you hope to maintain any semblance of connectivity and genetic viability.”
“Even if Idaho and Montana begin cautiously; the fact remains that there is absolutely no law or binding commitment in place that could stop them from decimating the population down to a mere 150 per state. And even then, there’s no guarantee that the federal government would step in.”
“No other endangered species has ever been delisted at such a low population level and then immediately hunted to even lower unsustainable levels. This isn’t wolf recovery; it’s a rejection of responsible wildlife conservation principles.”
Defenders of Wildlife is represented in this litigation by Earthjustice, along with plaintiffs Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Project, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.
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 
Contact(s):Suzanne Asha Stone, (208)424-9385 (office), (208)861-4655 (cell)
Erin McCallum, (202)772-3217; (610)207-5209