18 May 2009, 11:39am
by admin

The Hailey Wolf Rally

by Tony Mayer, SaveElk.com

I would estimate 300-350 in attendance and the parking lot was full of cars. The meeting started at 6:00 pm and the caretakers had to turn out the lights at 11:00 pm –- there simply was not enough time for everyone who filled out a comment card to be heard. A lot of passion rose about this issue, with 99.9 % of the residents saying something must be done right away to control and remove the wolves.

Idaho Fish and Game Director Cal Groen indicated that the IDFG is keenly aware of the urgency of this wolf issue. He said his department is capable of managing wolves just as they do all other game species. Along with Cal, there were other speakers including myself who commented (representatives from pro-wolf groups like Defenders of Wildlife (DoW) and the Sierra Club declined to speak).

All the speakers commented on how this wolf introduction program has turned into a major debacle, and how unmanaged wolves are systematically destroying and eradicating our states ungulate and other wildlife. There was much public comment — all of it was decidedly anti-wolf, “get them out of here” rhetoric voiced by everyone. There was comment after comment about people and livestock being harassed, threatened and attacked, and individuals witnessing elk being sport killed and slaughtered by wolves.

What’s surprising about these decidedly anti-wolf testimonials is that they were made by residents presumably right in the heart of the pro-wolf territory. I fully expected that pro-wolf advocates would amass a major group of supporting their position, but they did not.

Wayne Willich, the Mayor of Sun Valley spoke, and he was quite impassioned and expressed his grave concerns about wolves and the way the wolf population has gotten totally out of hand in the Valley.

Willich stood before the crowd pointing his finger at the pro-wolvers and occasionally at Cal Groen and other IDFG personnel in attendance. He said that he came to the valley about 10 years ago from back East and at that time he was decidedly for animal rights, and was opposed to hunting and the killing animals. He since has changed and understands and appreciates the values of most Idahoans. He’s gotten a concealed weapons permit and now enjoys shooting and fishing, along with his many other outdoor pastimes. He says the Valley’s way of life is being threatened “to the core” by these wolves. He believes that this wolf situation has gotten entirely out of hand and something has to be done immediately. He believes the wolves have caused the natural order of things to turn “upside down”. Elk are being chased through the streets of town with wolves killing them within yards of buildings. He doesn’t feel safe in his own home as wolves often wander through his yard and he recently had a mountain line slaughtered by wolves within 100 yards from his home. That just isn’t right. Residents and visitors are afraid. Do they dare venture out from their safe surroundings? He is very concerned that someone is destined get attacked by a wolf as they become increasingly human habituated.

This habituation threatens visitors who come to Sun Valley from all over the country for its outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors come to the resort to mountain bike, hike, ski, fish, etc, and if someone is attacked as he is sure will happen, it’s going to be a major economic blow to the area. Willich believes it will be an immediate $100 million economic hit. He said he had been authorized to speak on behalf of the Sun Valley Company and they too see this urgency and are demanding that something be done. They believe a single wolf attack will cost them millions and will result in visitors going elsewhere. They have too much invested to sit back and to let this happen. Willich said as mayor he is charged with the responsibility to look out for the local resident’s businesses and interests, and for the health and safety of all residents and visitors. He believes all affected parties are prepared to sue in the unfortunate event that someone in the Valley is attacked or killed by a wolf.

Individual after individual got up and passionately told their horror stories and voiced their concerns about wolves. A few challenged the press to accurately report this rally and the sentiments of the residents. There was some press attending and we will see if they dare go against the PC establishment and accurately report the rally.

There is no doubt that most residents from the Hailey area are absolutely feed up with this wolf debacle and are at their wits end. I believe that this issue is far from over, as everyone I talked with is dedicated to keep up this fight until something positive is done, even if it means taking directly to the Governor.



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