Federal employees shoot wolves to boost elk herds in Idaho

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USDA Wildlife Services inappropriately expands role in wolf-killing

BOISE, Idaho (February 23, 2012) - Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced yesterday that it helped fund USDA Wildlife Services’ removal of 14 wolves in the Lolo zone of the Clearwater National Forest in northern Idaho. The federal action is part of an Idaho program to remove most wolves from a remote section of federal land in an attempt to boost elk numbers. An additional 28 wolves have been removed from this area through trapping, hunting, and previous aerial gunning.

Statewide, more than 400 wolves have been eliminated from Idaho’s population since the beginning of 2011. This represents a significant impact on the state’s wolf population, which was last estimated at 705 animals at the end of 2010. The participation of USDA Wildlife Services in state wildlife management is an inappropriate expansion of the federal role in non-endangered wildlife management under the Obama administration.

The following is a statement from Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:

“It’s wrong to ask American taxpayers to subsidize the pointless killing of wolves in order to boost game populations. The removal of wolves in the Clearwater National Forest runs counter to science-based wildlife management and is an inappropriate use of limited resources that should be aimed at conserving wildlife. Hunters and trappers have already killed more than 20 wolves in the area in the last six months, and the season continues until the end of March. There’s no scientific evidence that the ecosystem is out of balance due to the return of wolves and thus no justification for having Wildlife Services kill more wolves to boost elk numbers.

“The decline of the Lolo elk herd was the result of multiple factors, including historic habitat changes, road-building, and over-hunting by humans. Killing wolves without addressing these other factors is misguided. Further, biologists do not have an accurate count of how many wolves are in the Lolo region, and Idaho has no formal plan in place to measure the impacts of killing wolves on the elk population. Targeting dozens of wolves could wipe most of them out of the area, defeating the purpose of restoring the species to its proper ecological role. Wolves are vital to maintaining nature’s balance and should not be eliminated so carelessly.  

“Now that removal of wolves to boost elk herds has been allowed on the Clearwater National Forest, there’s nothing to stop wildlife managers from pursuing it elsewhere in the state. These actions validate our long-held concern that wolves were prematurely delisted based on inadequate state management plans that allow wolf numbers to be drastically reduced.

“It’s time to put a stop to these aggressive, unwarranted actions by the state. It’s also time for the Obama administration to stop allowing Wildlife Services to help states eliminate native wildlife.”



Read IDFG’s press release

Read more about Idaho’s aerial gunning plan

See Idaho Fish and Game’s wolf harvest information

Learn more about what Defenders is doing to protect wolves in the Northern Rockies

Get weekly wolf news updates on Defenders blog

Contact(s): John Motsinger, 202-772-0288

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.

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