5 Dec 2009, 4:24pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

The Truth about Idaho’s and Montana’s 2009 Wolf Harvest Quotas

By George Dovel

From The Outdoorsman, No. 35, July-Nov 2009 [here]

On March 6, 2008, in an effort to pacify Defenders of Wildlife and other wolf extremist groups, the Idaho F&G Commission ignored the 15 breeding pairs (150 wolves) goal established by the Legislature and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Interior Secretary. Instead, the Commission adopted a bastard plan that has never been submitted to the full Legislature for approval or rejection as required by Idaho law.

The 2008-2012 IDFG Plan agreed to manage for a minimum population of 518-732 wolves for five years …

In his testimony to the Court, Mech explained: “Every year, most wolf populations almost double in the spring through the birth of pups” [Mech 1970]. For example in May 2008, there will not be 1,500 wolves [in the Northern Rocky Mountains], but 3,000! …

Without any science to support their claim, Idaho F&G Commissioners said they were going to cut the minimum estimated end-of-year wolf population from 732 in 2007 to ~520 in 2008 using only a fall hunting season which also prohibited two methods used to harvest Idaho bears and mountain lions!

In other words, they ignored biology and science and pretended they could do what no other state or Canadian province with wolves has ever been able to do. …

When the [Idaho Legislature] re-wrote the unacceptable Draft #17 State Wolf Plan that was submitted for their approval in 2002, they anticipated something like this might happen from a state agency that ignored the necessity to control wolf numbers. They inserted explicit language on Page 24 of the Plan requiring IDFG to “submit any changes to the Idaho Legislature as if it were a new plan submitted for approval, amendment or rejection under Section 36-2405, Idaho Code.”

That Code Section requires the Commission must not only find that the plan provides for the management and conservation of the species when it is delisted, but it must also find “that reasonable safeguards are included in the management plan to protect the health, safety, private property and economic well-being of the citizens of the state of Idaho,” before it can approve the plan.

Then the approved plan must be forwarded to the Idaho Legislature “for approval, amendment or rejection by concurrent resolution at the regular session immediately following the commission’s finding and approval of the plan.” The Code Section also states, “Nothing in this act shall be interpreted as granting the department of fish and game with new or additional authority.”

House Bill 294, passed in 2003, created OSC and authorized it, in conjunction with IDFG, to develop and coordinate wolf management plans with the state agencies in Wyoming and Montana. But as with any changes to the 2002 State Wolf Plan by IDFG, any plan developed jointly by OSC must also be submitted to the Legislature for approval, amendment or rejection [I.C. Sec. 67-818(3)(b)].

Yet IDFG, OSC, and Governor Otter, and the lawyers representing them, chose to ignore the requirement for full legislative approval of any plan and pretend they had authority to substitute their plan for the State Plan. In a January 16, 2009 News Release Gov. Otter even referred to the IDFG Plan as Idaho’s “State” Management Plan:

Idaho’s State Management Plan calls for managing for no fewer than 518 wolves – nearly five times the minimum number agreed upon for our state prior to reintroduction. My administration supports that commitment – and I personally support that commitment – contrary to what has been said in the past. …

Just 38 days after Gov. Otter sent the letter to FWS agreeing to maintain a minimum wolf population that was already destroying Idaho’s elk herds, IDFG Director Cal Groen told the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee that, because of wolves, Idaho’s deer and elk populations are decreasing at the rate of 15% per year instead of increasing by 7%! Groen’s admission that the IDFG has known this was happening constitutes an admission that it has knowingly agreed to continue to allow excessive wolf populations to destroy Idaho big game herds for at least the next five years with the plan it wrote.

Since 2008, everyone involved in NRM wolf recovery, including Judge Molloy, recognized that annual hunter removal of less than 30% of the wolves would not even reduce the rate of wolf population increase. Yet the quotas of 75 and 220 set by Montana and Idaho comprise less than 18% of the projected 2009 pre-season population.

What did Idaho Commissioners, the Governor and OSC accomplish by pandering to the wolf extremists? …

In August and September 2009 when Cary, Idaho, rancher John Peavey lost 45 sheep and a guard dog to wolves in three separate attacks, IDFG would only authorize the killing of three wolves out of the reported seven that the sheepherder saw attacking and killing six sheep on September 4, 2009. …

A few days before the third wolf attack on the Peavy sheep occurred, Will Graves, author of “Wolves in Russia”, was discussing surplus (“spree”) killing by wolves with biologists in Montana. The biologists reportedly expressed doubt that it really happens but the following day wolves killed 120 purebred Rambouillet breeding bucks in a private pasture south of Dillon worth $350 each.

As with the killing of the 30 Peavey sheep in Idaho, this was the second episode of spree killing by wolves in less than a month on that Montana ranch. One of three wolves that killed at least 26 breeding rams on a private pasture in July was killed and another wounded but this did not halt the depredations. …

According to [USDA Wildlife Services] reports, for the past three years the so-called “Phantom Hill” wolf pack has committed multiple predations on sheep herds in the Sawtooth National Forest near Ketchum. In 2007, in spite of repeated predation by that wolf pack on sheep owned by sevral ranchers, IDFG would not allow WS agents to remove any wolves lethally.

Instead WS was forced to spend considerable time and money providing non-lethal devices and training ranch employees to use them – which did not stop the killing. …

This expensive activity undoubtedly reduced, but did not eliminate, predation on sheep by the Phantom Hill pack and was touted by the pro-wolf urban media as a “sensible” solution. But at the end of the season one rancher said it had created other problems, including stress and weight loss, and did not solve killing by other uncollared wolf packs or individual wolves.

In late winter of 2009 the Phantom Hill pack began killing elk and even a mountain lion within sight of occupants of Sun Valley’s Elkhorn subdivision. At an April 4, 2009 public meeting in Hailey, a reported crowd of “more than 100” citizens demanded removal of the wolves. …

[N]early five hours of local citizen testimony charged that uncontrolled killing of livestock and pets, and wolves confronting and threatening humans, require removal rather than management.

Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich testified that he and other local residents are afraid to leave the safety of their homes and are forced to carry firearms for protection. He described how wolves chase elk through the subdivision, killing them just yards from residents.

Advising that he was authorized to speak for the Sun Valley Company, Willich said visitors come to the resort to mountain bike, hike, ski and fish and said a wolf attack on a human will happen and cost an estimated $100 million if the wolves are not removed. Wolf activists including Susanne Stone (DOW), Lynne Stone and IDFG personnel who attended the meeting were pointed out by speakers, including Mayor Willich, who blamed them for promoting excessive wolf numbers. …

The failure of IDFG to kill all or even any wolves in the Phantom pack after three years of continued sheep killing is damning evidence of its intent to ignore Commission [and Legislative] direction.



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