Wolves in Idaho

Some time ago, I completed a topic on my primary blog The Environmental Analyst, entitled “Should the Wolf Be Removed From the Endangered Species List?” where I argued that environmental groups should be concentrating on establishing new wolf populations rather than fighting the Federal Government about removing gray wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act (to read the topic, click here. Click here for where I discuss the political situation in states like Idaho.). I was betting that state governments could be trusted to manage their wolf populations. But now with Idaho, I’m having some second thoughts. The Idaho House of Representatives will shortly vote on a bill to establish a Wolf Control Fund of $2 million dollars and a Wolf Depredation Control Board to administer it. To read the Idaho House Bill No. 470, click here. For a short explanation of the Wolf Control Fund, click here.

That’s not bad in itself. But Boise Public Radio reports that the aim is to reduce the Idaho wolf population from the current 680 wolves (approximate) down to about 150 (the minimum before the Federal Government would reimpose endangered species status, click here to read). If that is true, that would be a 78% reduction in Idaho’s wolf population. That’s not wolf management: that’s a wolf massacre. If Governor Otter signs the bill into law, then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should immediately relist the wolf as an endangered species in Idaho. In fact, because the FWS was dissatisfied with Wyoming’s wolf management plan, it delayed delisting the wolf in Wyoming until September 2012.

Does Idaho really need to slash its wolf population by 78%? We need the appraisal of wildlife biologists. Can the elk population support the current wolf population? If it can’t, we need to worry that wolves will turn to livestock for prey, and some culling of the population may be necessary. But 78%? I doubt it! And if the current elk population is sufficient to support the wolves, then what is the problem? What justifies exterminating 78% of the wolf population?

Much of the push is from hunters unwilling to compete fairly with the wolves. You hunters are supposed to be smarter than the wolves: prove it! Learn to outhunt them! And stop demanding an unfair monopoly over a game species that belongs to all predators.

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