I strongly urge you to maintain strong federal protections for wolves in Idaho and Wyoming.
Like many wildlife supporters, I want to see a future where Western
wolves can be removed from the list of endangered species. However,
removing federal protections for wolves is extremely premature. Neither
Idaho nor Wyoming's state wolf management plans have adequately
addressed the issues that once brought these magnificent animals to the
brink of extinction.
Wyoming's proposed state laws about wolves are designed to kill as many
wolves as possible -- and only because they are wolves. The state
intends to kill more than half of its wolves (16 of 23 packs)
immediately upon delisting and to maintain extremely low wolf numbers
thereafter through any means including poisoning, pulling pups from
their dens and aerial gunning.
Idaho's management plan is also troubling. That state's "management"
plan would allow the killing of as many as 60 of the state's 71
packs - more than 550 wolves. The plan lacks solid conservation
objectives, focusing on controlling wolves at minimal
levels and jeopardizing the strong recovery wolves have made under
federal protection. If Idaho and Wyoming are allowed to kill most of
the wolves, it will cripple the chances for wolf dispersal to Oregon,
Washington and Utah, virtually elimniating wolf restoration in these
states that were once part of the wolf's historic range.
Wolves play a crucial role in maintaining balanced ecosystems, helping
to ensure that elk and other game populations do not overwhelm
available habitat while while culling diseased animals from these
Wolves also play an increasingly important role in the region's economy.
According to a recent study, the roughly 151,000 people who visit
Yellowstone National Park each year to see wolves bring in $35 million
to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. And nearly four percent of Yellowstone
National Park's 2.8 million annual visitors say they would not have
visited the nation's oldest national park if wolves weren't there.
For all these reasons, I strongly urge you to retain federal Endangered
Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming and Idaho and to not hand
wolf management over to these states as they have irresponsible wolf
management plans. Thank you for considering my comments. Please keep me
informed on the status of wolf delisting in the Northern Rockies.