Since they were stripped of federal protection in Idaho, 859 wolves have been killed in the state. But Idaho wants to take its slaughter one gruesome step further: The state is planning cruel contest hunts sending hired killers into our public lands to gun down wolves.
This despicable wolf and coyote "derby" is planned for Dec. 28 and 29 -- and it's actually partly aimed at children. There will be cash prizes, and trophies will be awarded for the largest wolf caught and the most coyotes killed.
Wolves were nearly eradicated in the lower 48 states by government-hired killers. After nearly 40 years of work to restore these beautiful animals to the American landscape, Idaho wants to hold its cruel, throwback killing contest and send a gunman to mow down two entire wolf packs.
Wolves and coyotes evolved over millions of years to create balance with prey animals like elk and deer. Healthy ecosystems need these magnificent creatures.
Please take action now to urge Idaho agency heads, elected officials and business leaders to cease their barbaric treatment of wolves and coyotes.
I am writing to express my outrage over the state's decision to treat wolves and coyotes as vermin and allow a privately sponsored wolf and coyote derby on Dec. 28 and 29. I would also like to express my shock and outrage that Idaho has hired a wolf-killing gunman to kill two entire wolf packs on public lands to boost elk numbers for human hunters.
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Wolves were nearly eradicated from the lower 48 states -- many of them slaughtered by government-hired wolf killers. Until the few remaining wolves left were protected nearly 40 years ago under the federal Endangered Species Act, these magnificent animals continued to be persecuted through hunting contests, trapping, poisoning and gassing.
Federal protections were removed for wolves in Idaho only two short years ago -- and in that time span aggressive hunting and trapping have already reduced the state's wolf population by at least 11 percent. Now Idaho wants to allow killing contests for wolves and coyotes with cash awards and trophies. Just as bad -- if not worse -- the state has resurrected the practice of hiring wolf-killers to slaughter wolves living on publicly owned federal lands.
Modern-day research has unequivocally demonstrated the essential role of predators like wolves and coyotes in healthy, balanced ecosystems. These magnificent animals play key roles as apex predators (in the case of wolves) and mid-level predators (in the case of coyotes). Further, killing these animals indiscriminately does nothing to halt conflicts between wolves or coyotes and livestock -- in fact it may exacerbate such conflicts. Studies have shown that killing older animals, which are largest and would be targeted in contest hunts, disrupts the social structure of wolf packs and coyote communities.
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.