This attitude is evidenced by $19 tags for five wolves; not having a real quota; by having a trapping season beyond and through the hunting season; an attitude of “we need to drive down the population” without any science behind such thinking; an attitude of not holding the rancher responsible in any way for taking preventive, good husbandry, measures.
It is political management, not scientific management. Now it will be in evidence with a policy of allowing a rancher to kill a wolf “perceived” as a threat, which to a rancher and guests will likely mean any wolf seen, which will all equate to open season on wolves, with much of it on leased public land.
Wolves kill around 65 cattle annually in a state that has 5.5 million which is 0.001 percent. There are 3,776 leases on BLM land and 772 on national forest lands. Ranchers are reimbursed for losses. Oregon has a model for Montana, although Montana rule makers are too backward and obstinate to listen and learn. The Oregon wolf management model requires ranchers to have nonlethal deterrents in place and to have used them, and then only kill chronic offenders.
Wolves are not vermin. Wolves are apex predators that are good for wildlife ecology, having a positive cascading effect throughout the food chain versus ecological unhealthy man wildlife killing.
State lawmakers just approved a bill that sets aside $400,000 to exterminate 500 wolves. Adding insult to injury, the bill takes management away from the state wildlife agency and places it in the hands of a “wolf depredation control board” that will consist solely of members appointed and overseen by Governor Butch Otter, who said in 2007 that he wanted to be the first to kill an Idaho wolf after federal protections were taken away.
Just a few months ago, Idaho sent a bounty hunter into the woods to wipe out two wolf packs and more recently announced plans to kill 60 percent of the wolves in another part of the state.
The slaughter continues and Idaho’s political leaders seem to bask in the carnage they’re leaving behind.
It’s exactly the kind of ugly behavior that we feared when Congress in 2011 stripped Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in the northern Rockies, where some 1,600 wolves have been killed since protections were lifted. And it’s clear, more mass killing is on the way.
This isn’t supposed to be happening. The United States worked for 40 years to return wolves to the American landscape. Canis lupus had been driven to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states as settlement moved west, ranching moved in and government sponsored programs trapped, poisoned and shot wolves into oblivion.
The Endangered Species Act allowed wolves to begin recovery, at least in a few places like the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes states. After reintroductions in Yellowstone National Park and parts of Idaho, wolves came back. New packs formed. Families were built. Ecosystems, now with a keystone predator back in the mix, began to function like they had historically.
Politicians in Congress, though, pulled the plug and unceremoniously stripped federal protections. We were told that wolves could be responsibly managed by state wildlife agencies in places like Idaho.
Truth is, wolves are being persecuted in Idaho with the same kind of repulsive attitude that nearly drove them to extinction 100 years ago. Only now it’s happening under the official state flag.
And here’s where it gets worse: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now wants to take away federal protections for nearly all wolves in the lower 48 states. And, just like in 2011, we’re being told that wolves will be fine. They won’t be. Wolves today live in just five percent of their historic habitat.
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Posted in: Wolf Wars, Endangered Species Act
Tags: Great Lakes wolves, relisted, Montana, Idaho, wolf killing states, wolf trapping, wolf hunting, ESA, wolf persecution