A word from Jamie.
© Krista Schlyer
After demanding the opportunity to manage wolves within their borders, Idaho is completely blowing it. Instead of continued recovery, what we’re seeing is a war on wolves.
Idaho state officials have authorized concealed aerial-gunning programs, paid contractors to kill entire wolf packs in designated wilderness areas and instituted liberalized hunting and trapping regulations to kill as many wolves as possible as fast as they can. Since wolves were delisted in 2009 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho’s wolf population has declined by 23 percent, with successful breeding pairs down by 59 percent.
And Idaho, by its own admission, is just getting started. Gov. Butch Otter recently established a “wolf-control board” to implement widespread wolf killing throughout the state. Apparently the zeal with which the state was killing wolves was not good enough, so he and the state legislature created an independent entity whose sole focus is the killing of wolves. The control board is charged with driving Idaho’s current estimated wolf population of 659 down to as few as 150 animals. Further, the state’s new predation-management plan calls for killing up to 60 percent of the wolves living in the heart of the federally designated Frank Church Wilderness Area. With these latest moves, Otter is showing that he will stop at nothing to drive the wolf population down as low as possible in his state.
This is why Defenders requested that Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell initiate an immediate status review of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies as a first step to determine whether the species should be relisted under the Endangered Species Act in that region. We have also filed suit to stop the extermination effort on designated federal wilderness lands.
It would be an enormous tragedy if we saw this type of behavior move beyond Idaho to other states. After being persecuted for centuries, wolves deserve a better future in this country—and in Idaho in particular.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President