Since they were stripped of federal protection in Idaho, 890 wolves have been killed in the state. But Idaho is taking its slaughter one gruesome step further: The state has sent a hired bounty hunter into our public lands to gun down wolves.
Wolves were nearly eradicated in the lower 48 states by government-hired killers. In a cruel twist, after nearly 40 years of work to restore these beautiful animals to the American landscape, Idaho now chooses to send a gunman to mow down two entire wolf packs. There are reports that the bounty hunter has killed seven wolves already.
Wolves evolved over millions of years to create a healthy balance with prey animals like elk and deer. But the hired gun is there to leave more elk for hunters -- even though Idaho wildlife officials say elk numbers are at an all-time high.
Please take action now and send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho agency heads, commissioners and elected officials to call off the hunt.
I am writing to express my outrage that Idaho has hired a wolf-killing gunman to wipe out two entire wolf packs on public lands for the purpose of boosting elk numbers for game hunters.
Wolves were nearly eradicated from the lower 48 states, with many of them slaughtered by government-hired wolf-killers. Until the few remaining wolves left were protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, these magnificent animals continued to be persecuted through hunting contests, trapping, poisoning and gassing. Once they were protected, it took nearly 40 years to rebuild the wolf population to any semblance of what it might have once been in Idaho.
Wolves have been delisted in Idaho for only two short years, yet in that time span aggressive hunting and trapping in the state has already reduced its wolf population by at least 11 percent. Now the state would have wolves treated as vermin by resurrecting the practice of hiring wolf-killers to slaughter wolves living on publicly owned, federal wilderness.
This is 2014 -- not 1914. Modern-day research has unequivocally demonstrated the essential role of wolves in healthy, balanced ecosystems. Wolves play key roles as apex predators. Killing these animals to increase elk numbers for hunters is not only shameful but likely pointless as well, as it's not clear how many wolves are there for the hired gunman to kill -- and there's scant evidence that wolves have done any damage to elk herds in the Middle Fork area. Habitat -- not wolf predation -- is the biggest determining factor for elk herd size.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is a taxpayer-funded agency that serves all citizens -- not the objectives of one constituency. The nation has become appalled at the crazed wolf-killing frenzy that has gripped Idaho on your watch. The New York Times editorial board called the recent coyote and wolf "derby" and hired gunman an "ugly," "heedless slaughter."
Americans value Idaho's stunning public lands for a wide range of experiences, including the rare opportunity to see some of our nation's last intact wild ecosystems and wildlife in the wild. These events are illustrating for onlookers worldwide what a shameful mistake it was to remove federal protections for wolves.
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Idaho has become a killing field for wolves, and these most recent actions put a stain on ethical hunting practices. I urge you to reconsider your part in sanctioning these activities.
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