State, federal officials allow more than 400 wolves to be killed in first year of state management
WASHINGTON (April 30, 2012) – On May 5, 2011, Congress used a budget rider to remove the Northern Rockies wolf from the list of endangered species. For the past year, Idaho and Montana have been in charge of managing wolves in their states. Idaho in particular has pursued very aggressive strategies, including allowing very liberal hunting and trapping seasons during which more than 375 wolves have been killed so far. Dozens more wolves have been killed in Idaho as a result of targeted removals in response to livestock losses and to artificially boost elk herds in select areas.
The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife:
“For years, Idaho’s leaders repeatedly said that they would manage wolves responsibly. Idaho wildlife biologists even wrote a plan to maintain 518-732 wolves. But Idaho Governor Otter rescinded the biologists’ plan, and state officials indicate they have no plans to manage for more than 150 wolves. It seems when finally given the chance to manage their own wolves responsibly, Idaho has shown itself quite unwilling to do so.
“In the past year, state officials have pursued some of the exact same short-sighted, predator control strategies from the 1800s that put wolves on the endangered species list in the first place. They’re treating wolves like vermin instead of managing them like valuable native wildlife. That’s not how Idaho manages other species like black bears and mountain lions, and it’s not a responsible way to manage wolves either.
“Meanwhile, the federal government is sitting idly by as Idaho almost singlehandedly unravels one of our nation’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories. This is totally unheard of—never before has a species climbed its way back from near extinction only to be quickly decimated once again. Americans deserve a better return on their investment after helping to restore wolves in the Northern Rockies.
“The Obama administration and members of Congress who supported the wolf rider share the blame for stripping vital protections without adequate safeguards in place, and now it’s their job to hold Idaho accountable. The question is: How low will Idaho have to go before those responsible for the wolf’s premature delisting do something?”
The following is a statement from Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:
“The concerns of Idahoans who care about wolves are being completed ignored by our state officials. At last month’s Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting, wolf supporters outnumbered opponents more than three to one yet not one of our concerns about more than doubling the number of wolves that hunters and trappers can kill in the upcoming season were addressed. The state pledged to manage wolves like they do other wildlife, but mountain lions and black bears are not managed this aggressively. Idaho maintains approximately 3,000 mountain lions and 20,000 black bears and less than 600 wolves are left today. We need a responsible wildlife management plan for Idaho before the population is decimated.”
Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies were officially delisted on May 5, 2011, as the result of a budget rider introduced by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). The provision was the first in the 40-year history of the Endangered Species Act to strip federal protections for an individual species by legislative fiat.