Wildlife Services has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Idaho Governor Butch Otter's Wolf Depredation Control Board to help carry out the state’s relentless wolf killing program. The goal: to artificially boost elk numbers for sport hunters and outfitters.
It is simply shocking for Secretary Vilsack to allow his Wildlife Services employees to contract themselves out as sharpshooters to kill wolves from the air, especially on Forest Service lands. It is equally shocking for the Forest Service, which is also under the control of Secretary Vilsack, to stand by and allow their Wildlife Service colleagues to kill wolves on our national forest lands.
Please take immediate action and tell the Secretary of Agriculture to order Wildlife Services to stop killing wolves on U.S. Forest Service lands!
Subject: Stop aerially killing wildlife!
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
I strongly urge you to direct an agency under your control, Wildlife Services, to cease killing predators to increase game populations at the request of state fish and wildlife agencies. The aerial gunning of wolves is deeply offensive and wrong and I urge you to exercise your discretionary authority as a matter of policy to prohibit your employees from conducting such aerial gunning operations in the future, particularly on national forest lands.
We have recently learned of yet another secretive aerial gunning operation in the Lolo Elk Management zone in Idaho, which occurred in February, and resulted in the killing of19 wolves. Elk populations in this area have declined primarily because of changes in habitat. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, "elk numbers in [the Lolo] zone peaked in the late 1980s and have since been on a long-term decline. Lack of early successional stage forest was a primary factor behind the initiation of this decline."
The state's own independent scientific peer reviewers who studied the original wolf control plan noted that wolves were not even a primary cause of the elk decline. One stated "It seems to me that whatever has been causing the decline in elk recruitment rates, it wasn't wolf predation." Furthermore, they noted several major contradictions used to condemn wolves and questioned the overall validity of the state's plan and ability to document the results of these actions.
Nonetheless, wolves are now being persecuted and blamed for this decline of elk. You are allowing one agency under your control, Wildlife Services, to conduct aerial gunning of wolves on land managed by another agency under your control, the U.S. Forest Service. Thus, both the responsibility for the death of these wolves and the power to prevent tragic events like this from happening again rests upon your shoulders.
Idaho's archaic and discredited wolf management policies present a significant threat to the continued recovery of wolves in the Northern Rockies. I am strongly opposed to an agency under your control willingly participating in this ecological tragedy at the request of Idaho. You can say "no" as a matter of policy and you should.
As the head of the federal department in which Wildlife Services operates, I'm urging you to prohibit Wildlife Services from conducting any further lethal control actions against wolves for the purpose of managing ungulate populations.
Thank you for considering my urgent request.