Jamie Rappaport Clark, © Defenders of Wildlife

Hatred is the New Wolf Management Plan in Idaho

What’s wrong with Idaho? The state demanded from the federal government the opportunity to manage wolves within their borders and they are now completely blowing it. Instead of continued recovery, what we’re seeing is no less than a war on wolves.

Make no mistake: its Idaho’s elected officials who are leading the charge against wolves. By implementing ever escalating wolf killing programs and ramping up the anti-wolf rhetoric to new heights, they are being successful in creating a destructive culture of wolf hatred and fear in the state based on myth and hype.

Killer Bee plane, © Lynne Stone

Wildlife Services agents fly the “killer bee” airplane over Flat Top ranch looking for coyotes and wolves to kill in response to sheep losses.

A prime example is Governor Otter’s recently established “wolf control board” to implement widespread wolf killing throughout the state. Apparently the zeal with which the Idaho Department of Fish and Game was killing wolves was not near good enough for the Governor, so he and the state legislature created an independent entity whose sole focus is the killing of wolves.  This sounds like a predator “management” strategy from the 1800’s, not the 21st century. The five-member control board is charged with killing hundreds of Idaho’s wolves, driving Idaho’s current estimated wolf population of 659 down to as low as 150 animals. If any other wildlife population dropped as low as Idaho is planning to drop its wolf population, it would be a prime candidate for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. With this latest move, Governor Otter is showing that he will stop at nothing to bring the wolf population down as low as possible in his state.

But Governor Otter’s wolf control board is just one arrow in the state’s quiver of wolf killing programs. Since December, Idaho state officials have authorized concealed aerial gunning programs, paid contractors to attempt to kill entire wolf packs in designated wilderness areas, allowed competitive wolf killing derbies to take place and liberalized  hunting and trapping regulations to kill as many wolves as possible as fast as they can. According to Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s annual population count released last week, a total of 473 wolves were killed by people in 2013, resulting in a 9 percent decline in the population. Since wolves were delisted in 2009 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho has seen a 23 percent decline in its wolf population, and the reported number of successful breeding pairs in Idaho has declined by 59 percent.

Gibbon wolf pack, © NPS

Gibbon pack in Yellowstone.

Idaho is just getting started. The full effect of their new wolf-killing policies — like Governor Otter’s wolf control board or Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s new predation management plan – which calls for killing up to 60 percent of the wolves living in the heart of the federally designated Frank Church Wilderness area – have yet to be felt. With these aggressive tactics in place, Idaho state officials are openly  predicting a dramatic decline in Idaho’s wolf population.

This is one of the reasons why Defenders has now requested that Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell initiate an immediate status review of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies as a first step to determine whether the species should be relisted under the Endangered Species Act in that region.

Idaho’s continued acceleration of wolf killing as a management strategy is institutionalizing a culture of wolf hatred and irresponsible wildlife management.  And it clearly raises serious concerns about the state’s ability to sustainably manage the species amidst such a climate of hostility. Acts that normally would fall well outside the bounds of fair chase and responsible  hunting ethics are now being touted  as justified and routine.  First, it was county employees who began taking matters into their own hands. A sheriff and his staff created the “shoot, shovel and shut up” raffle publicly condoning vigilante killing of wolves at a time when they were still protected under federal law. Next, a Forest Service employee posted pictures of himself posed in front of a leg hold trapped and injured wolf in a circle of snow soaked in blood before he killed it. After these acts were met with resounding silence from state and federal wildlife managers, the floodgates opened. It is truly unfortunate to now see the  number of social media sites promoting brutal wolf killing, for example: Idaho against the Gray Wolves ; Kill the Wolves ; Kill all the wolves (every last worthless vermin wolf!); Wolves Are Profane Vermin Not Scared Animals ; The Only Good Wolf is A Dead Wolf. And this vigilante attitude is spreading across wolf country. In Wyoming, wolf extremists are posting pictures of themselves in white hoods with dead wolves, earning them shockingly favorable comparisons to the KKK. Another strapped a dead wolf carcass to the top of his car and parked it in a local town square, then called the press, to attract more attention.

We must combat the notion that what Idaho is resorting to is traditional or responsible “wildlife management” before other states follow their lead. Washington, Oregon and hopefully, California have an important opportunity to manage wolves in a more principled, ethical and sustainable manner. These states should continue to focus on wolf management solutions that promote proven methods for people and predators to coexist, instead of archaic strategies that focus exclusively on killing as many wolves as possible.

Wood River team, © Defenders of Wildlife

Last year’s Wood River field crew.

Thankfully, there are programs in place that do just this, even in Idaho. For example, working with ranchers and local officials in Idaho’s Blaine County, Defenders has pioneered practical solutions to reduce livestock losses to wolves and other predators. Using non-lethal deterrents like fladry, range riders and electric fencing, we have developed programs that dramatically reduce or eliminate livestock losses and build social acceptance for wolves. We have proven that non-lethal wolf management strategies work better over the long term in reducing wolf/livestock conflicts than simply killing wolves.

Idaho is demonstrating to us all  that in the end, they are not capable of or interested in managing wolves responsibly. It would be an enormous tragedy if we saw this type of behavior move beyond Idaho to other states if this war on wolves is allowed to persist. It doesn’t speak well of us at all if this is how we want to be seen as stewards of our natural resources legacy.

After being persecuted for centuries, wolves deserve a better future in this country, and in Idaho in particular.

By Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife

This blog post was originally published in the Huffington Post.

29 Responses to “Hatred is the New Wolf Management Plan in Idaho”

  1. Toby

    Idaho you are disgusting…use your common sense and look at history

  2. Luca

    Wolfs are nature… Se have to preserve them and nature. It s fondamentale for US about the world. We must save the nature the wild animals the enviroment totally. We have no other way.

  3. Valeria

    Every link that is taken out or “controlled” by us leads to disaster in the food chain. How simple that is!

  4. Natalie Kruse

    The reason they are doing this is because the wolf symbolizes everything they hate. For centuries, the politicians have been able to get a small faction of very right-wing extremists to be on their side. I’ll bet if you took a vote, and every person in the state of Idaho had a chance to say if they wanted wolves to thrive or not, the majority would say “yes”. And in defense of Idahoans, a lot of the extremists are moving here from other states. They heard that Idaho is very liberal when it comes to allowing people to do what they want to. Idaho is a state that is known for being ‘lax’ when it comes to infringing on individual’s rights to do as they choose. So, we get weirdos and extremists from all over moving to Idaho. Governor Otter is a right-wing extremist who happens, unfortunately, to be our governor. We need to vote him out. He does not represent the majority of Idahoan’s.

  5. Mary Morris

    Idaho is a great state, it’s the polititions that are ruling a beautiful state.

  6. Kathy King

    Are you characters in Idaho insane? I don’t understand your logic here in destroying this beautiful creature. Load them up and ship them to Georgia if you don’t want them. We aren’t such cruel human beings here!!! You should be trying to protect not destroy Nature’s beauty. SHAME ON YOU !!!

  7. Denise Aldrete

    Yes Governor Butch is an all around animal hater of all kinds.When Mercy for Animals caught workers at Bettencourt dairy commiting bestiality(sexual abuse) on dairy cows as well as torturing and maiming them on video he passed a law that gives a huge fine and prison time to anyone caught documenting this abuse.What is he hiding?Also in 2007 when he was elected he proclaimed that he wanted to shoot thee first Idaho wolf after federal protection stopped.Yes he is very comfortable living at 1009 S. Star Rd. in Star Idaho 83669 and as well at 364 N. Pine Meadows Cir. in Mountain Home Idaho 83647 and will probably welcome any letters that one would be so inclined to write in regard to his wolf killing frenzy.

  8. Ina

    I fully agree with this article. What Idaho, and now other states, are allowing is frightening, inexcusable. Is this what will happen with continued, condoned ignorance and an old-world attitude that the Earth and its life is here for humans to use up and destroy? If so, we are all doomed.

  9. Melanie Perry

    Leave these wolves alone! God placed them in nature to have a place of their own in our ecosystem. For you to kill them off is to disrupt Nature’s plan and should be considered, therefore, as a sin against nature. Let them be!

  10. Hale Irwin

    Idaho sucks…. Such Ignorance is unbelievable. Boycott Idaho!

  11. Angel

    Gov. Butch(er) and the rest of the state of Idaho has cave man mentality…another good reason to boycott this state. I already DO NOT buy potatoes from your state. New York state potatoes are just as good, if not better. They don’t slaughter wolves either.

  12. Brady

    So how do you have only a 9% decline in population it you kill 450 of 650 wolves? You idiots have a really skewed idea of wildlife management and even basic math. Wolves are the biggest disaster for wildlife in over 100 years. It’s about time Idaho quit listening to out of state special interest groups and managed their wildlife appropriately.

  13. Cheryl

    You have yet to understand the balance in nature….protect your sheep and guard them like a shepherd should. But know that the Wolf is also a creature of God.

  14. Jeff

    Well, I hope you do boycott Idaho because we don’t want all of you idiots here anyway. You big city idiots don’t have a clue what the wolves are really doing in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Not to mention the poor surrounding states that the wolves bleed into. I see first hand the destruction and waste these animals cause. They kill elk and moose and don’t eat them. They eat the fetus and uterus from the cows and leave them to die a slow and painful death, but you idiots don’t hear about, or choose to ignor that part. If you like, the states that were forced to take these worthless wolves would be glad to round them up and put them in the states that you live in. I bet you would have a change of heart if you had to deal with them. There was a reason they were erraticated in the west. They destroy and waste farm animals, pets and wildlife. We have a serious decline in our elk population because of these wolves and they are killing dogs and horses. Open your eyes and see what they really do and please don’t come to our beautifl state, because we don’t want you here anyway.

  15. Shira Landman

    I find it very disturbing that $400,000 will be spent in Idaho to kill more than 450 wolves this year. Really?? What’s wrong with those people? I firmly believe that only small minded, ignorant and uneducated folks would come up with a decision like this. Their personal sadistic killing phantasy combined with greed and power rules over long term ecological and environmental decisions to safe this planet! Shame on Idaho!!

  16. Jack

    This article is as one sided and biased as it claims the opposing viewpoint to be. Instead of being extreme left why don’t you try to talk about both sides of the story. It’s proven the the more left and right you get on a subject the further you get from the truth. Life is not black and white. Wolves are 100% good or 100% bad. There are a lot of complicated issues surrounding wolves, especially in Idaho. You don’t win anyone over through extremism. All you do is push the opposing sides farther and farther away from each other.

  17. Ryan

    Brady, you were obviously dropped on your head as a child. Wolves lived here long before our pitiful asses. They occupy a niche in a complex ecosystem that affects every blade of grass and every centimeter of erosion. This concept is obviously well beyond your tiny intellect. Go spout your ignorant rhetoric somewhere else.

  18. Michael alpha Jones

    Screw with nature and nature will bite you square on the ass

  19. Michael alpha Jones

    I. Agree Idaho needs to be stoped these animals have more right to be there then the people who live there . They call them a nuisance after destroying there habitat to build there own and now try to kill them off is bull shit get rid of bill otter and this bull shit fish and game agenda and 90% will go away

  20. Brady

    Ryan you clearly were dropped on your head much harder than I was. I’m also guessing you aren’t from Idaho Montana or Wyoming. The Canadian Yukon wolf wasn’t here before me or anybody who has lived in these states for the recent past. They aren’t some magical creature that makes the world better with fuzzy bunnies and rainbows like you wolfaboos would like to think. They are an invasive species that needs eradication. That will sadly never happen due to mandated management numbers for them. I don’t hear any of you wolf huggers crying to save the moose they have all but wiped out. Do everyone who lives in wolf country a favor and mind your own business, we don’t want you idiots or your skewed ideas here.

  21. Packprincess

    Sounds like its Bush Otter is not liking the comments. Save the wolves. lol

  22. Lori

    Before you judge a whole state try to investigate the facts. people who live in the states with wolves know the facts about wolves. We SEE the destruction of all wildlife and have FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE with wolves killing our pets and livestock . Wolves have killed everything in the high mountains and are now in our backyards. If someone forced you city folks to coexist with a serial killer or child molester in your backyard ,would you just accept the danger to your family?oh yeah, look into Hydatid Disease …75% of these wolves are infected….

  23. Socrates

    Humans are the apex predator, as much a part of nature and the world ecosystem as any wolf. Nuf sed.

  24. Justin

    Brady and Jeff, oh how I pity you. You hail from a state that that chronically underfunds their schools and has just about the lowest college graduation rates in the nation. You are, however, not to be blamed for you ignorance, you simply were never given the chance or opportunity to learn the truth. You were never taught to investigate or to search for truth. You were never given the chance to be smart. Your are a product of your environment, an environment of ignorant and paranoid parents and peers who only know how to argue a point with heresay and falsehoods. You try to convince people that you have more right to dictate the use of our public lands than someone from a big city far away. Well, public lands belong to us all regardless of what state you reside in. I am a resident of Wyoming and prior to this I was a resident of Idaho, Utah and Oregon. I am intimately familiar with the backcountry of the west and the places the wolves should rightly be allowed to call home. Their benefits are scientifically proven in their native ecosystems and yes they are native. They should be allowed to coexist throughout their historic range unmolested by your ignorant attitudes and little red riding hood fear mongering. Wolves are not wasteful gluttonous killers as your lies would have people believe, they kill to eat just as we do and sometimes they are unable to consume all that they kill in one sitting. Just as you don’t always finish all the food on your plate, you save it for leftovers. Again your ignorance in seeing only a piece of the puzzle is most likely due to your upbringing in such a pitiful and closed society. I don’t expect any of this to change your opinions as that is not something I believe you to be capable of. I just hope that more of us “right thinking” granola hippie tree huggers exist than simpletons like you.

  25. Tom

    Dear Jamie: You failed to mention the ESA determined 10 breeding pair/100 adults met the needs for re-introduction of the gray wolf per WY, ID AND MT, as determined by using best available science. I note you use percentages of wolf reduction without providing the numbers that matter: What percentage of those minimums still exist after wolf culls: 200%? 1000%?

    What number do you propose is sufficient per state, and what is your basis for that determination?

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