Less than five years after losing federal protection, it is clearer than ever that Idaho refuses to manage its wolf population responsibly. Instead of managing their wolves like other wildlife, the state has declared war on them.
Since 2011, Idaho has:
- Used aerial gunning to wipe out entire packs, including those on national forest lands, to artificially boost elk populations;
- Allowed hunting of wolves every day of the year;
- Doubled the number of wolves that could be trapped or snared from five to ten;
- Sent a professional trapper to eliminate two packs of wolves in a federal wilderness area;
- Proposed killing 60 percent of the remaining wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness; and
- Passed HB470 into law setting aside an annual amount of $400,000 for the sole purpose of killing as many wolves as possible.
The Governor of Idaho has made no secret of his intention to reduce the state's wolf population to 150 animals or less, which would require initially killing more than 450 wolves and their young as more are born.
That's why Defenders of Wildlife has officially requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) immediately initiate a status review of wolves in the Northern Rockies and examine the relentless threats that this species has encountered. This is the first step toward restoring Endangered Species Act protection to wolves in Idaho and other Northern Rockies states.
Join us in calling on FWS to review the status of Idaho's persecuted wolves.
Dear Secretary Jewell,
Subject: Review the Status of Wolves in the Northern Rockies
I am joining Defenders of Wildlife in requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) complete a status review and analysis of threats to the northern Rockies population of gray wolves.
The partial delisting of wolves in the northern Rockies was premised on the FWS's determination that the states of Idaho and Montana would manage this species sustainably and responsibly as they do other game animals through adequate wolf management plans.
Unfortunately for the future of wolves in the northern Rockies, it is clear that Idaho is not implementing the commitments it made with respect to its management of wolves and has no intention of doing so for the foreseeable future.
Since 2011, hunters, trappers and government officials have killed more than 1000 wolves in the state, reducing the population by hundreds in the last few years. State officials are working hard to accelerate this decline. Most recently, the Idaho legislature passed and Governor Otter signed a bill to establish a Wolf Control Board, which, if fully funded for the next five years, will have at its disposal $2 million in taxpayer money to aggressively kill wolves in Idaho. Sponsors of this bill publicly touted that this legislation would enable the state to kill all but 100 - 150 wolves, the bare minimum number required by the federal wolf delisting plan.
Idaho is unraveling one of our nation's greatest conservation success stories, and has returned to the days when wolves were considered vermin and nearly extirpated from the lower 48 states. Idaho's conduct is also anathema to the model of successful federal-state partnership in endangered species recovery in which species are brought back from the brink of extinction and recovered under the ESA, and then states and other partners maintain and continue those successful recovery efforts. Idaho is turning this model on its head by undermining and reversing the recovery of the gray wolf in the northern Rockies, one of our nation's flagship wildlife conservation achievements.
The FWS's 2009 delisting rule identified three scenarios that could trigger a status review and analysis of threats to determine if relisting of wolves in the northern Rockies was warranted, including "a change in State law or management objectives that would significantly increase the threat to the wolf population."
I consider the combination of Idaho going back on its commitments to manage wolves pursuant to its 2008 management plan and to maintain at least 518 wolves - both of which commitments FWS relied upon in its 2009 delisting rule - and the aggressive predator control tactics the state is currently implementing to substantially reduce the number of wolves in the state, to constitute a change in wolf "management objectives" which has "significantly increase[d] the threat to the wolf population."
Accordingly, pursuant to the FWS's 2009 delisting rule and the ESA, I request that the FWS immediately initiate a status review of wolves in the northern Rockies, including an assessment of Idaho's current wolf management tactics and objectives, to determine whether, in light of these threats, relisting is warranted.
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