Reprieve for Wolves in Idaho: On Monday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) announced an abrupt end to their wolf extermination program in the Frank Church Wilderness Area after Defenders and other conservation groups took the issue to federal court earlier this month. As of January 15, the trapper had killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness; he will pack out of the area after all traps and snares have been removed. IDFG says they believe the trapper killed all of the wolves in the Golden and Monumental wolf packs, but the truth is that no one – not event IDFG – knows how many wolves remain in these two packs.Though we are saddened about the nine wolves killed needlessly, any remaining wolves that could have been killed are safe, as are any other animals that could have fallen victim had the effort continued. We are hopeful that our litigation will cause IDFG to think twice about future efforts to eradicate wolves in wilderness areas, and cause U.S. Forest Service officials to deny access to IDFG for such activities.
Today Fish and Wildlife Released Annual Count of Mexican Gray Wolves: Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico saw only a slight increase in population numbers in 2013, according to an official Fish and Wildlife Service count released today. This year’s count tallied 83 wolves, an increase of only eight individuals from the 2012 year-end population of 75 wolves. Defenders is disappointed by these numbers, but they are not unexpected. The Service has done next to nothing to complete or implement a recovery plan for these wolves.
In response to these numbers, Eva Sargent, director of southwest programs for Defenders of Wildlife said “In order to see a significant increase in yearly population numbers, breeding pairs and, overall genetic health, Mexican gray wolves need three things: a science-based recovery plan must be implemented immediately; more breeding pairs must be released; and at least two additional core populations must be established in suitable habitat. Above all, these numbers tell us one thing – Mexican gray wolves cannot recover without help. The Service must recommit to getting the job done.”