Wolf Advocates Outnumber Anti-wolf Extremists at Monday’s Hearing on Gov. Otter’s Wolf Control Board: Legislation to authorize Gov. Otter’s wolf control board continued to work its way through the state legislature this week as an Idaho House Committee took the issue up on Monday. Defenders and other groups organized local supporters to testify against this legislation at the hearing and turnout was amazing! For the first time, the number of wolf supporters exceeded the number of anti-wolf supporters as the committee heard compelling testimony from hunters, scientists, wolf friendly agricultural folks, and even a county commissioner who told the Committee they should not be “implementing a 19th century solution to a 21st century conflict.”
The bill sponsors stated to local media that their goal is to use this funding to drive Idaho’s wolf population down as low as 150 from a current population of 500 – 600 wolves. Defenders continues to explain to state officials that there are much more cost effective and non-lethal ways to manage wolves like some of the coexistence projects we’ve pioneered, including the Wood River Wolf Project in Idaho. This project has successfully protected more than 25,000 sheep annually grazing on the Sawtooth National Forest, losing fewer than 25 sheep total over the last 6 years – without having to kill a single wolf in the project area. Here are a few statements Suzanne Stone, Defenders wolf expert and Idaho resident, made last week when the bill gained traction in the House.We expect this bill to move to the House floor for a vote in the coming days before it is moved to the Senate for vote. In other words, now is a critical time for Idahoans to oppose this legislation. Please contact your legislators to oppose House Bill 470.
Yellowstone Park Biologists Say No Monitored Wolves Killed in 2013 : According to an article this week, no collared or monitored wolves tracked by Yellowstone Park’s Wolf Project team were killed by hunters in 2013. Park officials put a preliminary count on the number of wolves in Yellowstone National Park at 86 – which is an increase of three animals from 2012. So, why the difference between hunting associated deaths from 2010- 2012? This could be partially due to pressure from Yellowstone officials that urged Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to create lower quotas for hunting and trapping around the northern border of the Park. In addition, Wyoming Game and Fish Department reduced its hunting quotas in their trophy zone from 52 in 2012 to 26 in 2013. By reducing hunting quotas, it seems that Montana and Wyoming have given wolves some level of protection from hunters and trappers as they exit the Park’s perimeter. We hope to see Yellowstone’s wolf population remain stable or increase in 2014.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Investigates Dead Wolf in Northern Washington: On Feb. 9, state agency officials found a radio-collared female wolf from the Smackout pack dead in Stevens County, Washington. Wolves in this part of the state were federally delisted a few years ago, but they are still protected under state endangered species laws and managed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This incident is still under investigation; WDFW said the wolf died under “suspicious circumstances” and investigators are still trying to determine whether a crime was committed. A final necropsy on the wolf is scheduled for later next week.
Wolf Baiting Proposal for Idaho’s Panhandle? News surfaced this week about a new proposal by Idaho Fish and Game which would allow outfitters and trappers to bait wolves in Idaho’s panhandle in order to increase kills. This proposal will be the subject of an open house on February 27in Coeur d’Alene from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. PST (Best Western, 506 W. Appleway Ave. Coeur d’ Alene) but the proposal will require action by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the state legislature before it could be implemented.