Tuesday, January 14, 2014


By Leonard Hitchcock

Where in Idaho can a wolf find a friend? Obviously not among the cattlemen, or the sheep men, and certainly not among the hunters and outfitters, whose credo seems to be: If humans enjoy killing another species, like elk, then they have the right to eliminate any non-human predator that reduces their chances of doing so.

And then there are all those Idahoans who may not feel any particular animosity toward wolves, but for whom wolves symbolize the big, bad federal government’s unwelcome interference in Idaho’s affairs. These are the same people who eagerly help themselves to federal agricultural support payments and tax subsidies and cheap grazing fees for public lands, and snatch at dollars flowing into the state from innumerable other federal programs, but who feel that only Idahoans have a right to control that land within the state that legally belongs to all the citizens of the nation.

When the U.S. Congress – which is to say, the people of this country – passed the Wilderness Act, in 1964, its intentions were perfectly clear. The country was in danger of losing all those areas in which nature alone shaped the landscape and the living things within it: areas that could still remind us of the America that Europeans found several hundred years ago when they appropriated it and began the inexorable process of transforming it to suit their needs and desires; areas in which we can now find solitude and rejuvenation; where we can reestablish contact with the daily rhythms and activities of a living world independent of us, a world in which we are now, of necessity, only visitors, yet one to which we are still attuned because it is akin to the world in which our species evolved.

The Wilderness Act was intended to preserve such areas as these by protecting them from further alteration by human activity, and to thereby “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” A Wilderness area was to be “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.” It was to be managed “so as to preserve [its] natural conditions” and “wilderness character.” Humans could enter Wilderness areas, but only for a short time. They could study, backpack, hunt and fish, but their impact on the area had to be minimal, and they could leave behind nothing but footprints.

The state of Idaho has clearly violated both the spirit and letter of the Wilderness Act. It has hired a hunter to exterminate two wolf packs within the boundaries of the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness (FCRNRW). The agents of this violation are primarily the Idaho Fish and Game department (IDFG) and the National Forest Service, which aided and abetted the extermination project by allowing the use of its landing strip and cabin.

The target of this killing project is not a visitor to the FCRNRW, it is a resident. It lived there before Asian peoples crossed the Bering Strait, before the Europeans came. It is a true, native Idahoan. It was, regrettably, absent from that wilderness for many years because humans exterminated it. When the area was being considered for wilderness status, the only serious shortcoming of the region, apart from that cabin and two airstrips, was the human-caused absence of wolves. But now the wolf has been restored to its home, and it is now, as it was before, an integral and vital element in the ecology of that wilderness.

Idaho has betrayed the spirit of the Wilderness Act because, in areas so designated, nature must be allowed to take its course. Governments are required to insure that humans do not interfere with the natural forces which shape life in those areas, and must not manipulate the ecosystem to serve their own purposes. It has violated the letter of the law because, while the management regulations for wilderness areas do allow for certain interventions by man, those interventions must be narrowly restricted to actions that make no major or long-lasting alteration in the dominance of those natural forces. And any actions which threaten to make such changes must go through a careful review process before they can be approved.

The reasons for the Idaho wolf extermination project are obvious and largely acknowledged by the government. Wolves prey upon elk and deer. Hunters like to kill elk and deer. Killing two wolf packs will reduce predation on those animals, making them more abundant. IDFG profits from hunters killing elk and deer, as do outfitters, who are parasitic on the hunting community. The state, in other words, is intentionally altering the ecosystem in the FCRNRW in order to create profit for itself and the hunting industry.

The illegal actions of Idaho and the Forest Service have now been challenged in a suit brought by Dr. Ralph Maughan and three conservation organizations: Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, and Wilderness Watch. They charge the defendants with failing to submit their extermination plan for the required evaluations and violating the Wilderness Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The details of their indictment are available at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwzwdJo0zxv5SmQ4dWl5WmtLbWc/edit

The government of Idaho apparently listens attentively to those of its citizens who believe that land only has value if it can be physically exploited, i.e. to those citizens who would say “If you can’t grow something on a piece of land, or harvest what already grows there, or mine it, or build on it, or kill what lives there, either for sport or food, then what good is it?” These are not people to whom one can entrust the protection of wilderness areas. It’s time for the rest of us to be heard.

Leonard Hitchcock of Pocatello is a professor emeritus at Idaho State University.

6 Responses to “Idaho breaks the law and wolves die”

c. R. Stucki says:
January 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm
Another bleeding-heart type whose liberal ideology far exceeds his understanding of the history of the area of central Idaho that we characterize as “wilderness”.

There is abundant historical evidence that wolves are not and never were native to the “Frank Church” wilderness.

Wolves are predators, and cannot exist in the absence of large big-game prey animals. Hitchcock, and millions of others who intuitively but incorrectly believe that all wild creatures chose the most rugged places in which to live prior to the European settlement of North America, are simply manifesting their egregious ignorance of historical fact.

Wolves were never exterminated from the FCRNRW, because they never were present until they were introduced (NOT “re-introduced”) from animals re-introduced to Yellowstone from Canada.

redneck says:
January 12, 2014 at 9:04 am
I think people should get to gather round up a lot of wolfs and grizzly bears, put them in inclosed trailers, we do not want the public to see them all caged up now do we.

Haul some to the liberal state of California and to the liberal established Washington D.C., you have to arrive at night and turn the animals in the city’s and parks.

I’m sure before they become large cities wolves and grizzly’s roamed the area’s

mostlymike says:
January 13, 2014 at 1:01 am

I guess you show why you call yourself “redneck.” You repeat the old story about California liberals and how they should get the wolves and bears.

I hate to have to help you, but you are also supposed to say “and put some wolves in Central Park in New York.” You can even do the cliches correctly.

mostlymike says:
January 13, 2014 at 10:50 am
c. R. Stucki said “Wolves were never exterminated from the FCRNRW, because they never were present until they were introduced (NOT “re-introduced”) from animals re-introduced to Yellowstone from Canada.”

It is true there were 3 or so wolves in central Idaho when the wolves from Alberta were introduced. There is no reason to think that these 3 were somehow descended from the wolves of Central Idaho from 90 years earlier. They migrated down from Canada themselves (or from Montana). All 3 wolves were male, not likely to sustain a population on their own.

c. R. Stucki says:
January 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm
Wolves have no choice. They do not do well on a grass diet, they have to live where the prey animals (large ungulates) live. That is currently the Rocky Mountains, because the white man crowded them off their natural habitat, which was mainly the great plains.

There is MUCH historical documentation of the fact that neither large ungulates nor the animals that prey upon them, were present in the Idaho wilderness areas.

Doubters should read the explorer’s journals.

Disgusted Reader says:
January 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Central Park already has wolves of the human variety.


Wolf-killing plan complicates balancing act
Pragmatic conservationists say they can support wolf hunting, but not treating the restored species like vermin, especially in the wilderness.
rbarker@idahostatesman.comJanuary 14, 2014 Updated 1 hour ago

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/01/14/2971988/wolf-killing-plan-complicates.html#storylink=cpy

Director Virgil Moore’s two goals for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game — to bring hunters and other wildlife advocates together and to increase elk numbers — have collided in the middle of the largest wilderness in the lower 48 states.

His agency’s hiring of a hunter-trapper to exterminate two packs of wolves in the 2.4 million-acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness has angered many of the people who had previously stayed out of the polarizing wolf debate. It’s also alienating some of the people who are critical to Moore’s efforts to expand funding for his department.

Gov. Butch Otter has proposed spending $2 million to create a separate Wolf Control Board, taking more money from declining license revenues to kill more wolves that prey on livestock and the elk Moore wants to grow.

Moore has been director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game since 2011. In 2012, he hosted a wildlife summit designed to bring together hunters and nonhunters to support their common love of the elk, deer, bears, birds and other critters. And throughout his term he has sought to rebuild elk populations that have declined in some areas where elk habitat has diminished.

In both cases, the polarization sparked by the 1995 reintroduction of wolves into the Northern Rockies has blocked his way.

Wolf advocates in Idaho and nationally are angry with Idaho’s aggressive efforts to reduce wolf numbers. But many conservation groups had supported Moore and the department, hopeful that he can bring the same respect to state wolf management that Fish and Game brought to mountain lions in the early 1970s.

Deciding to hire staff to eliminate entire packs of wolves is more than they can tolerate.

“It’s a product of not respecting the existence of that creature,” said Jim Akenson, a wildlife biologist and hunter who spent 18 of the past 29 years at the University of Idaho’s Taylor Ranch in the wilderness residents affectionately call “the Frank.” “It’s the same thing Maurice Hornocker encountered when he pushed to protect cougars as game animals.”

Hornocker, a legendary wildlife biologist who lives in Hailey, did the research on lions 50 years ago in the same area where Fish and Game’s hunter is seeking to kill wolves. His research was the foundation for the agency policy that elevated cougars from varmint to trophy animals.

Moore has stressed that the department doesn’t want to eliminate wolves, just manage their numbers — like it does cougars. Idaho has more than 700 wolves and about 100 packs or breeding pairs.

As much as it is about numbers of wolves, for conservationists the issue also is how they are treated. A hired gun in the wilderness goes beyond Fish and Game’s traditional means of reducing trophy animal numbers through public hunting and trapping.

For Moore, however, the issue is numbers. Elk populations have dropped in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River drainage as hunters and six packs of wolves have killed enough elk to keep the population from responding to the growth of new food sources after 20 years of fire. Hunter elk harvests have dropped in recent years, but wolf predation remains high.

Hunting wolves is a method that Akenson and other conservationists can accept. But because “the Frank” is remote and hard to get to, hunters have not been a factor in reducing wolf numbers.

Fish and Game’s draft elk plan calls for culling two of the six wolf packs, Moore said, and hiring a hunter-trapper to do it is the only tool the agency has.

“This is more a philosophical and social issue, not a biological issue,” Moore said. “I think we’re going to have to sit down and take some time and have some dialogue on it.”

The Idaho Conservation League is one of the conservation groups that has stayed away from the polarizing edge of the wolf debate. It is not among the groups that sued in U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge’s court to halt the extermination of the two packs in the Middle Fork drainage. Executive Director Rick Johnson said he’s heard from many members disappointed that the Idaho group hasn’t fought harder against wolf killings.

But other ICL members, including hunters, support its middle-of-the-road approach.

ICL staff helped write the Idaho wolf management plan in 2002, a plan that allowed wolves to expand in areas where they don’t cause problems. It set goals for 10 to 15 packs statewide. Today, that seems low; at the time, the plan met the federal expectations for recovering the species, 150 wolves.

“We certainly recognize that success for wolf recovery means state management and we believe it’s a success,” Johnson said.

The carrying capacity for wolves and elk is not simply biological numbers, he said. There is a social carrying capacity as well.

“I get that, in the front country, there is going to be robust management for a bunch of different reasons,” Johnson said. “One of them is it keeps the wolves focused on the real backcountry.

“If they can’t live there,” he asks, “where can they live?”

Fish and Game’s own agency culture more closely aligns with this pragmatic conservationist view that supports hunting but also values wildlife such as wolves, bluebirds and otters, said John Freemuth, a political science professor at Boise State University who follows wildlife and federal management issues. But Idaho’s political structure places elk and deer, along with livestock, above predators.

“Virgil is walking a balance beam here,” Freemuth said. “He’s much more attuned, and his agency is culturally, to moving to other wildlife concerns, but they are constantly yanked back by the politicians.”

Among the most prominent voices calling for more wolf control is Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a sheep grower from Terreton. He is Otter’s main legislative supporter for the Wolf Control Board, which he said needs to focus on reducing the wolf population that has cost sheep businesses such as his. He said he’s had $30,000 to $50,000 in losses annually over the past eight years.

State records show that 337 sheep were killed in 2012, the latest number available, compared to 147 in 2011. Cattle ranchers lost about 90 head in both years.

But already some legislators are skeptical about spending $2 million to kill wolves. With a total population of about 700 wolves, that’s $2,800 for every wolf in Idaho, living or dead.

Rep. Lawerence Denney, chairman of the House Resources and Conservation Committee, said Fish and Game needs to be free to do its job, protecting the game animals that encourage hunters to buy licenses.

“It’s impacting their bottom line as well, because there’s not the game populations there once was and they’re trying to protect their major base,” Denney said.

Polls by Boise State University through the 1990s showed a plurality or a majority of Idahoans support having wolves in Idaho when the animals are in the wilderness or the state’s roadless areas. That support is why this issue remains a source of tension.

“I’d rather have some wolves around and see a few less elk so I can hear some wolves, and I think there’s a lot of silent hunters in Idaho who share that view,” said Akenson, who now lives in Enterprise, Ore.

Siddoway, a former Idaho Fish and Game commissioner, worries about the effect of wolves on elk and deer as well as livestock. But he’s as tired of the polarization as anyone.

He doesn’t think this is the year the two sides can find common ground, especially about a control board. But he thinks ranchers, hunters and wolf advocates are going to have to sit down and talk eventually.

“We’ve got to find agreement,” Siddoway said.

Rocky Barker: 377-6484

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/01/14/2971988/wolf-killing-plan-complicates.html#storylink=cpy

LinkElk Zone Management
LinkWolf B2 changed Idaho
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will vote Jan. 16 on the state elk management plan that includes the Middle Fork of the Salmon River zone and calls for hiring a hunter-trapper to eliminate two of six packs of wolves.

A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Washington Group Plaza at 720 Park Blvd.

Idaho Wolves and Elk

Æ 1995-96: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 35 wolves into Idaho, augmenting several lone wolves living in the state.

Æ 2002: Idaho had 300 wolves and the number was growing; the Legislature approved a state management plan.

Æ 2011: Congress removed wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah from the threatened species list.

Æ 2012: Idaho Fish and Game sold 80,577 elk tags, and hunters killed 16,418 elk — a 20 percent success rate. In 1996, 100,527 hunters had a 25 percent success rate.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/01/14/2971988/wolf-killing-plan-complicates.html#storylink=cpy


Betsy Z. Russell 
The Spokesman-Review
January 12, 2014 in Idaho
BOISE – Sen. Russ Fulcher is ripping Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal for a new $2 million wolf control fund. “I don’t know what we need to spend $2 million for,” Fulcher said on a Boise talk radio show this past week, after Otter announced the new fund in his State of the State message. Fulcher, who is challenging Otter in the GOP primary, said Otter’s plan would “create another bureaucracy in order to manage this.”

Otter’s proposed state budget for next year calls for spending $2 million in state general funds to start up the new fund, and then adding contributions each year of $110,000 from hunting license fees and the livestock industry to sustain the fund. “This three-pronged approach will provide the revenue needed to more effectively control Idaho’s burgeoning wolf population and ease the impact on our livestock and wildlife,” Otter said to applause.

Wolf control is a touchy subject; Idaho currently is being sued over its move to hire a professional hunter to exterminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, and federal wildlife agencies have lost a chunk of their funding for such efforts to federal budget cuts in recent years.

Fulcher, R-Meridian, said, “Why wouldn’t we just increase the number of (wolf hunting) tags and let one predator take care of another? … This is an emotional issue in this state. I don’t know why we need another bureaucracy.”

Jana Jones, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Tom Luna in 2006, is making another run for state superintendent of public instruction. “I’ve spent the last 40 years in education in the classroom, in school districts, at the state level, and in both the public and private sectors and I know what it takes to bring everyone to the table to do what’s best for Idaho’s kids,” Jones said in her announcement.

Jones, who holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and a doctorate in educational leadership, taught public school and holds state endorsements to serve as a principal, superintendent and special education director. She also founded a prominent early childhood education center in Idaho Falls, headed Gov. Cecil Andrus’ Office for Children, worked at the state Department of Education under three superintendents and was chief deputy superintendent to then-Superintendent Marilyn Howard. In the 2006 election, Luna defeated Jones 51 percent to 49 percent; Luna had lost to Howard four years earlier.

Jones said, “There’s lots of work to do. Budgets and programs have been cut, classrooms are overcrowded, local control has been diminished and trust has been lost. You have to ask yourself: Do you feel better about our schools today than you did a few years ago? Probably not. I want us to start feeling good about our schools again.”

Luna, a Republican, has not yet announced whether he’ll seek a third term as superintendent. He was re-elected in 2010 with 60.5 percent of the vote, but his signature school reform laws were repealed by voters last year, with one drawing a 66.7 percent “no” vote.

Nearly 2,000 people traveled to Boise from all parts of the state in 2011 and 2012 to have their say on the state budget at big public hearings, a first for the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Until then, it had been the only committee in the Legislature that didn’t take public testimony, though it writes the entire state budget.

That ended last year, when two hearings were scheduled but then legislative leaders canceled them, saying they didn’t want the budget committee to get out ahead of the House and Senate education committees as they considered the results of voters’ rejection of the Students Come First school reform referendums.

Now, the public hearings are back. This year, the Health and Welfare and Education committees will host public hearings, and then JFAC will have one, too – on Valentine’s Day.

“I think it’s important,” said JFAC Co-Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. Past hearings came during big budget cuts. Times are different now, but there’s still not enough state revenue to cover all the identified needs, Cameron said. “It’s important to help us prioritize the money that we have.”

Fulcher issued a video response to Otter’s State of the State message decrying Otter’s “tepid leadership” and saying the two-term governor’s address “offers more evidence that he is out of touch with Idaho’s problems.” His campaign acknowledged, however, that the video was prerecorded – before Fulcher saw the speech.

Tags:2014 Idaho LegislatureButch OtterIdaho politicsRuss Fulcher


Sportsmen, livestock industry would annually provide matching 
dollars for fund in future years.

By Christina Lords
(Idaho Falls) Post Register 
January 8, 2014 

Sen. Jeff Siddoway may have been the happiest man in the Idaho House of Representative’s chambers on Monday as Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter rolled out a proposal for $2 million in start-up funds for wolf population control in Idaho.

That’s because controlling Idaho’s wolf population doesn’t hit quite as close to home for many legislators as it does for the longtime Terreton Republican and sheep rancher.

In August, the Siddoway Sheep Co. herders said they came across a gruesome scene: a pile of 176 sheep carcasses killed in a wolf attack. It’s the greatest one-time loss from wolves the company has ever had. Siddoway said he hopes the Wolf Control Fund will help prevent losses like that from happening to other Idaho livestock owners.

“Anything that reduces the wolf population is a good thing,” Siddoway said. “I don’t think there’s a person in the state that could give you an accurate estimate about how many wolves we have. All we’re hoping is that if we get a reduction in numbers, that our losses are ultimately going to be less.”

Otter proposed the establishment of the fund along with a five-member state board to manage it during the governor’s State of the State address. The money will go to further efforts to reduce the wolf population. It will not be used to reimburse ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.

“With your unflinching support,” Otter told legislators, “we were able to fight through the opposition of those who would make Idaho into a restricted-use wildlife refuge and take back control of these predators from our federal landlords.”

But wolf advocates, such as the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance publicly decried the proposal, citing concerns over the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s recent decision to hire a hunter to control wolf populations around the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Siddoway said the board will be co-chaired by Fish and Game’s director and the director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture. The remaining membership will be appointed by Otter and will include a representative of Idaho sportsmen, a representative of livestock owners and a member at-large. That at-large member will likely represent the interests of wolf advocates, Siddoway said.

Otter’s budget recommendation calls for a one-time general fund allocation of $2 million to start the fund for fiscal year 2015, with annual contributions of $110,000 from members of the livestock industry and a match from Idaho sportsmen thereafter. Some of that funding will come from hunting licensing in the state, Siddoway said.

“This three-pronged approach will provide the revenue needed to more effectively control Idaho’s burgeoning wolf population and ease the impact on our livestock and wildlife,” Otter said.

Siddoway agreed.

“It’ll allow more people to go out and actually do the hunting and trapping,” he said. “It’ll finance that. Some of the work may be done aerially either by fixed-wing (aircraft) or helicopter, depending on the terrain.”

Idaho law stipulates only agencies can kill wolves aerially, not members of the public.

According to Fish and Game, 192 wolves have been harvested so far during the 2013-2014 season. Two hundred and two wolves were killed during the 2011-12 season and 270 were harvested during the 2010-2011 season.

In 2012, the agency reported 122 confirmed depredation incidents, including 90 cows, 251 sheep and four dogs for a total of 345 animals killed by a wolf attack.

Sharon Kiefer, Fish and Game’s deputy director for programs and policy, said the pending legislation to establish the fund was overseen by representatives of the governor’s office, Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

She stressed the funding would go toward wolf depredation — not toward compensation to ranchers who lose livestock to wolves. “This has nothing to do with compensation; this has everything to do with depredation,” Kiefer said.

Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, said sportsmen and other constituents are as concerned about controlling wolves as ranchers. “Hunting opportunities have just disappeared in some areas because of the depredation (and loss of) some of the elk,” Bair said.


Updated January 9. 2014



Seven Wolves Killed In Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness by Government Hired Trapper
Plaintiffs in the case against the wolf killing plan for the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho have learned that at least 7 wolves have been killed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game hired trapper as of January 2nd.  It is possible that more have been killed but communication with the trapper is conducted only when the trapper calls out using a satellite phone which is kept turned off most of the time.

From the court filing:

Plaintiffs learned from counsel for defendant Virgil Moore that, as of January 2, 2014, IDFG’s hired hunter-trapper had killed seven wolves within the targeted wolf packs, six by trapping and one by hunting, and that more wolves may have been killed as of today. Defendant Moore’s counsel further advised that IDFG’s only means of communication with the hunter-trapper is a satellite telephone in the hunter-trapper’s possession, and that, to preserve the phone’s batteries, the hunter-trapper turns on the phone only when he places a call.

In response, the plaintiffs have filed a second motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with an expedited briefing schedule.

Read Second Motion for TRO

Plaintiffs, represented by Tim Preso of Earthjustice, include Ralph Maughan and three conservation groups—Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and Center for Biological Diversity.  The case, which was filed yesterday, challenges US Forest Service’s approval of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s plan to exterminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness on the grounds that it violates several laws, management plans, and policies which are meant to protect wilderness characteristics, wildlife, and natural processes within wilderness. 

Background news concerning Idaho wolf hunting policies and the policy makers.



Although there's a year round season for wolves on private lands in the Idaho Panhandle, the 2013-2014 wolf hunting season for the rest of the state opens on Friday.

The season runs through March 31, except in the Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones and in that portion of Unit 16 in the Dworshak-Elk City Zone north of the Selway River where the season closes June 30.

An individual may buy up to five wolf hunting tags a calendar year, but hunters may use only two wolf tags in some parts of the state in a calendar year.

No more than two gray wolf hunting tags may be used in the Salmon, McCall Weiser, Sawtooth, Southern Mountains, Beaverhead, Island Park and Southern Idaho zone. No more than five tags may be used in the Panhandle, Palouse-Hells Canyon, Lolo, Dworshak-Elk City, Selway and Middle Fork zones.

Harvest limits have been set in five zones:
45 in the Salmon Zone, 60 in the Sawtooth Zone, 40 in the Southern Mountains, 10 in the Beaverhead and 30 in the Island Park Zone.There is no statewide harvest limit.

The wolf trapping season opens November 15 in all but four wolf zones, and Unit 10A of the Dworshak-Elk City Zone opens to trapping Feb. 1.





Thank you for your article, “Wolves suspected of killing 8 sheep in Wyoming” (Missoulian, Aug. 30). Does anyone else find it awfully strange that sheep at yet another ranch owned by Idaho state Sen. Jeff Siddoway have allegedly been killed by wolves? Has a nationwide wolf alert gone out to attack all things Siddoway? Or could something else be going on here?

Jeff Siddoway hates wolves. That is no secret to anyone in the country at this point. When the sheep died at his Idaho ranch after trampling on each other (and not from being killed by wolves), Wildlife Services, a federal agency constantly in the news due to their widespread slaughter of wildlife, came in and 13 wolves lost their lives. Nine of these were pups, who clearly were not attacking sheep. And the sheep were left there for days to rot and and send out a smelly message to wolves and other predators that there was a free meal to be had. Trying to attract more wolves to kill, perhaps? It was certainly irresponsible, at the very least.

So forgive me if I am not willing to condemn wolves in this latest incident. Because something really stinks here. Is it the smell of rotting sheep? Whatever it is, it’s enough to keep me, and others who come to the Rocky Mountain states to see wolves, from visiting. I, and my hard-earned money, can find other places to visit.

Janet Hoben,
Burbank, Calif.

Here is the news from the Missoulian about Mr. Siddoway's report of sheep deaths by wolves.


August 30, 2013 3:24 pm  •  Associated Press
JACKSON, Wyo. — Officials with an Idaho company say wolves are suspected of killing eight of its sheep on a public land grazing allotment in Wyoming during the past 10 days.

The sheep are owned by the Siddoway Sheep Co., which is based in Terreton, Idaho. It is the same company that reported losing 176 sheep nearby in Idaho two weeks ago after wolves caused the herd to stampede and crush each other.

The eight sheep killed in Wyoming were located on a grazing allotment in the Bridger-Teton National Forest south of Hoback Junction.

J.C. Siddoway says that the company has had wolf problems there for about five years.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials are investigating.

Wolf, Wyoming Wolves, Wolf Depredation, Sheep Kills, Siddoway Sheep Company, Terreton, Idaho, Hoback Junction, Wyoming Wolf Kills

Photo credit: Wolves suspected in 8 sheep deaths in Wyoming | News - Home

by RALPH MAUGHAN on AUGUST 25, 2013 

We now know the true story of the recently deceased 176 sheep near Fogg Hill in Eastern Idaho — frightened into stampede, but not killed by wolves.  

We have to ask ourselves, have past wolf “massacre of sheep” stories been similarly misreported?

Back in 2009 near Dillon, Montana, there was much outrage, but few facts ever established when 120 ”purebred Rambouillet bucks” all turned up dead on a private pasture. They were  thought  to have been killed by the Centennial wolf pack which previously had no record of livestock depredations, although there had been previous depredations by other wolves in the area.

The exact location of the pasture was not given, nor its topography. We know that topography is critical when sheep panic.  We do know the sheep were left alone in the Blacktail Mountains, though they were reported to have been checked on every couple days. All the information the public received came from an article by Nick Gevock in the Montana Standard and another by Eve Byron in the Helena Independent Record.

When the “federal trapper” arrived to investigate, he found the “total included 82 confirmed kills and 40 carcasses that were classified as probable kills, including some that had been eaten by bears.”  Given what we have learned about Wildlife Services in the years since, there is an open question how accurate this determination was.

The wolves indeed might have gone into a frenzy and killed and killed for some reason. We even editorialized that that wolf pack had to be terminated, and a bunch of wolves were killed.

On the other hand, additional facts were impossible to come by. We were especially interested in the exact location. Now hard experience tells us to be open-minded about what really happened.  Other sporadic large kills of sheep ought to be reconsidered as well.

< O >

Idaho Senator Jeff Siddoway 
is in the spotlight again.
Maybe he will do the right thing here?
He IS a Senator in Idaho.
Isn't that what Senators in Idaho do?

From WolfWatcher:

"Don’t train wolves to eat sheep" - http://bit.ly/17mdlov
~Dr. Chris Albert, Letter-to-the-Editor committee participant

For those who would like some background and the issue of grazing livestock on public lands, we suggest reading The Wildlife News's article - http://bit.ly/15gKd5O

Again, many orgs are doing fabulous work to foster peaceful coexistence with wolves and wildlife. We reported about them on Aug. 23rd (http://on.fb.me/1dqDPMF)

Kudos to conservationists and ranchers who are working together to save stock and save wolves. Isn't it time some farmers and ranchers who are stuck in the past join the rest of modern America? We say yes...what say you?

The letter from Chris Albert, DVM ~ Lebanon Junction, KY:

As we learn to live with predators, the first and most important rule is not to feed them. It's the reason we don't feed bears National Parks - and now they leave us along.
What does the Siddoway sheep farm do when 175 sheep are killed in a stampede? They blame the wolves and then leave those 175 carcasses in place so the predators will come and eat them. They claim that "wolves are devastating to sheep ranching" and will incur even more sheep loss to wolves, since, in effect, the wolves are being trained to eat his sheep.
Mr.Siddoway, you are an Idaho senator. Please show some responsibility and remove those carcasses. The wolf recovery was welcomed by the nation and funded with all of our tax dollars. Many Americans feel vested in this venture and want to see it succeed.
Chris Albert. DVM
Lebanon Junction, KY


A Big Sheep Pile Up in Idaho  
and Some Wolves in Idaho 
and A Senator in Idaho 
and A Family in Idaho 
that Raises Sheep


Juniper Mountain Ranch
"A Great Place to Sit Back, Relax and Kill Everything."

Senator Jeff C. Siddoway's Biography & Contact info:

1. Idaho State Senator Jeff Siddoway owns Siddoway Sheep Company.

2. Senator Jeff Siddoway authors bill to kill wolves by any means possible.

3. The United States Congress shoots it down.

4. Senator Jeff Siddoway leaks story of 176 sheep killed. By two wolves.
Results in the Fed hunters killing 13 members of Idaho wolf pack. 

The sheep here belong to Senator Jeff Siddoway, and Cindy Siddoway. 
They both deal with raising sheep for money, both live in Idaho, and both have a connection to the "freak incident" that saw two lone wolves responsible for killing 176 sheep. 

"Freak incident". The words used in the news report, not mine.

5. U.S. Forest Service prohibits public from site of sheep massacre.
Claims danger to public.

6. And ALL of this comes on the heels of the news of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service catches it for meddling with the wolf delisting peer review processUSFWS http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2013/08/19/corrupting-peer-review/

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Art credit: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, Gustave Dore art print www~dot~artsycraftsy~dot~com - 

SO. What is that Senator in Idaho REALLY doing with those sheep?



Senator Jeff Siddoway also pushes amendment to turn Land Owner Appreciation bill into a no access gravy train.
Idaho rancher and State Senator Jeff Siddoway has introduced a bill (S1305) in the Idaho statehouse that would authorize the slaughter of wolves involved in molesting or killing livestock by any number of creative ways.

Idaho State Senator Siddoway
Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 4:48 PM


BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A bill that would allow Idaho ranchers to use powered parachutes, helicopters and live-bait traps to hunt problem wolves has died in the Senate.
Senators agreed Tuesday to send the controversial legislation back to the Resources and Environment Committee -- a move that likely ends the bill's chances this year.
Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway of Terreton is a sheep rancher and the bill's lead sponsor. Siddoway gave an impassioned speech defending his legislation and decrying the impact wolves are causing on livestock producers statewide.
But he also acknowledged how his bill could risk putting wolves back on the federal Endangered Species List, and he urged his colleagues to send it back to committee.
The legislation would let ranchers track and kill wolves for 36 hours after an attack.
Copyright 2012 The AP.

Senator Siddoway seems to have some sort of fetish for killing wolves via extravagant means.  You may remember back in 2009 when Siddoway apparently authorized the private aerial gunning with – if I remember correctly a motorized parachute, to kill a wolf on his property in violation of the Airborne Hunting Act of 1956.  Idaho authorities refused to cite the senator for the incident. ed. note. Idaho’s prisons are overflowing with the less well connected.

Of the proposed legislation Siddoway says:

“You can basically go after them [wolves] by any means available,” Siddoway said. “And when I say ‘get ‘em’ I mean kill ‘em.”

The bill would allow aerial hunting, use of any weapon, including artificial light night scopes on rifles. Live bait also would be permitted to lure wolves to traps. In Siddoway’s case, the bait would be several of his sheep, corralled behind a temporary fence. Others might use dogs as bait, he said.

The bill does not require a livestock owner with a permit to protect his live bait, or limit what it could be.  It would allow use of a child (though other laws would prevent that).

The Siddoway Sheep Company Incorporated, which is partially owned by the Senator, received $865,952 in agricultural subsidies between the years 1995-2006. Siddoway has been president of the Idaho Woolgrowers, an Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner, but never a friend of wildlife or hunters, except the rich ones.

A few years back, Siddoway also fenced off 8 of his private square miles of his huge landholdings, which also include public land grazing permits. and carved out the “Juniper Mountain Ranch,” an elk farm where anyone can hunt elk behind a fence without a license or tag if they have a big wallet.  A 231-285 size bull will cost-$4,4954, however a big 400″ is $12,000.  Even larger bulls ares available . . .  prices on request.  So he has a sagebrush and juniper covered elk hunting farm, but he has more private property than that.  For that,  and presumably for other big Idaho land barons, he has introduced another piece of legislation that has already passed the Senate Committee — senate bill 1283.

If passed into law, Senator Siddoway’s proposal would amend fish and game code 36-104: 4-B 24-26 to read:

“any landowner issued a landowner appreciation program (LAP) controlled hunt tag may sell the tag to another person at any price upon which the parties mutually agree”.

According to the Idaho Wildlife Federation the purpose of the LAP program was to create a preferred  tag draw for landowners to ensure a tag to those whose property lay in controlled hunt units in deference for them providing wildlife habitat and sportsmen’s access. These tags were designed for use by the landowner and family members only, not for selling the tags for personal profit. Senate Bill S1283 destroys the original intent of the LAP program and allows landowners to sell hunting tags off to the highest bidder and keep the proceeds, and its appears without providing access.

This is so typical of Idaho’s land barons, and it shows why the Idaho Fish and Game Commission with its tradition of land baron, or kin of baron representation, doesn’t represent the public interest or the more narrow interest of hunters.

Back to bill s. 1305, the wolf baiting bill.  Every year the governor’s wolf compensation committee meets  and hands out “reimbursement” for “wolf-killed” livestock for which there is no hard proof.  Siddoway had some claims, and this year he complained there was not enough money in the fund. After the meeting ended he introduced the bill.

While Siddoway is doing all this, he is also sponsoring a constitutional amendment to guarantee the “right to hunt and trap.”
Folks ought to be able to see a diversion here.  If there are few to no tags for you and public land is blocked off, what use is a right to hunt?
< O >

August 19, 2013 
By Angela Montana

The first sentence of an article posted today on tetonvalleynews.net read “U.S. Forest Service officials are asking people to stay out of an area where a large sheep kill was reported over the weekend.”  Wolves have been confirmed responsible for the death of 176 sheep, approximately 5 1/2 hours from Missoula.

If you are a Montana wolf hunter/trapper, and you want to hunt/trap in Idaho, out-of-state tags can be picked up over the counter.  You can get more information on their wolf season dates and quotas by clicking HERE.

Check out the article:

Billie Siddoway, whose brother, J.C. Siddoway, runs sheep near Fogg Hill, posted this warning about the wolf kill Saturday at the trailheads of Pole Canyon and Fourth of July trails.

U.S. Forest Service officials are asking people to stay out of an area where a large sheep kill was reported over the weekend.

Jay Pence, Teton Basin District ranger, said the sheep kill could attract a lot of people hoping to see predators coming to feed on the carcasses.

Ranchers and others are trying to deal with the situation, and visitors can hamper their activities.

“There are a lot more fun things to look at than dead sheep,” said Pence.

Idaho Wildlife Services confirmed Monday that 176 sheep were killed during a wolf attack near Fogg Hill and the Pole Canyon area early Saturday morning.

The animals belonged to the Siddoway Sheep Company and were grazing in the area about six miles south of Victor, according to a release from Siddoway. The attack, they said, occurred around 1 a.m.

Todd Grimm, director of the Wildlife Services Program, said his office confirmed the depredation Sunday. Many of the animals died from suffocation, since some apparently fell in front of the rest, resulting in a large pile-up.

“This was a rather unique situation,” said Grimm. “Most of the time they don’t pile up like this, but the wolves got them running.”

Only one animal seems to have been eaten in the attack, according to the Siddoway release.

“The sheep are not fenced,” said Billie Siddoway, in an email interview. “They move every few days to a new pasture within a designated area. The sheep are herded and monitored by two full-time herders, four herding dogs and at least four guard dogs.”

Grimm said there is already a “control action” in the area. Since July 3, 12 wolves have been lethally trapped, including nine pups. The goal is to take them all, he said.

“We expect that bears and other scavengers will soon locate the kill site,” said Billie Siddoway.

< O >


Credit: Idaho Wildlife Services
by Associated Press
Posted on August 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Updated yesterday at 3:59 PM

176 sheep killed by wolves in 'freak' incident

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- A southeastern Idaho ranch lost 176 sheep as the animals ran in fear from two wolves that chased through a herd of about 2,400 animals south of Victor.
Sheepherders for the Siddoway Sheep Co. heard the wolves at about 1 a.m. Saturday, but didn't know the extent of the damage until they saw the sheep piled up on each other at daybreak.
J.C. Siddoway of Terreton says almost all of the sheep died from asphyxiation. About 10 died of bite wounds and one was partially consumed.
Idaho Wildlife Services State Director Todd Grimm says it's the greatest loss by wolves ever recorded in one instance in the state. About nine years ago, wolves killed 105 sheep on one night.
Grimm says a dozen wolves have been removed from the Pine Creek area this year.
< O >

by Matt Standal
Follow: @KTVBMatt
Posted on August 21, 2013 at 3:31 PM
Updated yesterday at 4:22 PM

VICTOR, Idaho -- Cindy Siddoway's family has raised sheep on the western slope of the Teton Mountains for more than 100 years.
In that time, the Siddoway Ranch has dealt with a variety of predators, including grizzlies and black bears, secretive mountain lions, and more recently -- wolves.
Siddoway says it's the reintroduction of wolves to the Tetons that has resulted in the largest mass sheep kill recorded in Idaho. The deaths happened early Friday morning.
That's when 176 of the family's sheep -- mostly lambs -- died in a frightened mass on a notch in a rocky ridge line south of Victor, Idaho. The animals were grazing on public land in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Officials with the USDA say most of the sheep suffocated, while others were trampled to death as they piled on each other while trying to escape the wolves. Less than 10 were bitten. Only one was partially consumed.
Two gray wolves spotted by Peruvian shepherds the next day are the suspected culprits.
"We're putting out thousands of animals that are just sitting ducks," Siddoway told KTVB, as she tallied up the wolf kills from the 2013 season.
The numbers are startling for the Siddoways.
With more than 19,000 sheep, the family's livestock operation is big business. So far, they've had hundreds of sheep, several Great Pyrenees guard dogs, and even a horse killed by wolves in the last few months.

Each sheep is roughly valued at $200 a head, when it comes to USDA loss compensation. That means the Siddoways loss is on the scale of $35,000.
For Cindy -- whose husband is an Idaho senator and whose son manages the operation -- the killings are a continued financial drain.

"My husband and I have been fighting this whole issue our entire lives," she told KTVB


Todd Grimm is the director of Wildlife Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Boise. He's charged with investigating wolf depredation in Idaho and documenting the findings. 
Grimm says the mass sheep kill isn't anything he's seen before.

"I would consider this a freak incident," Grimm said. "We have had some pile ups from time-to-time, and most of those are because of black bears, and even [mountain] lions" Grimm said.
The reason: Grimm says wolves typically attack in packs, and tend to scatter sheep, not cause them to pile up and suffocate.

Grimm says he's absolutely confident that wolves were responsible for the Siddoway's loss. His reasoning: "We had an eyewitness account -- which is rare -- we had evidence at the scene, tracks and scat, bite marks on the sheep."
"The big question is, how many did they actually bite?" Grimm told KTVB.

Another big question: Will the Siddoway ranch get any compensation for the claims?
Grimm says he's not certain.
No herders have been compensated for wolf losses through Idaho's state-run distribution program in the last two years.
Grimm says although money is made available through the Department of the Interior, it's not always immediately distributed to the state, and has been lately delayed by the sequestration.

< O >


At the scene of the sheep stampede, bodies were piled where the animals were crushed or suffocated after being chased by the wolves. COURTESY PHOTO

By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
August 21, 2013

A wolf pack that roams the south end of Teton Valley, Idaho, has been all but wiped out after a bizarre sheep stampede that’s been blamed on the wild canines.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have killed 13 wolves from the Pine Creek Pack, which occasionally ventures into western Wyoming in the area of Teton Pass, said Todd Grimm, Idaho director of the federal Wildlife Services program, which kills predators that cause damage.

“We had already removed 12 by the time this incident had taken place,” Grimm said. “And we’ve got another one since then.”

“I can’t believe how many wolves we’ve got in there,” he said.

Of the 13 trapped and euthanized wolves, four were adults or sub-adults, Grimm said. Nine of the wolves killed were pups, he said.

The pack’s demise was already underway when two wolves thought to be Pine Creek members ventured into a 2,400-head sheep herd early Saturday morning. The herd, owned by the Siddoway Sheep Company of St. Anthony, Idaho, was bedding down on Caribou-Targhee National Forest land between Pole Canyon and Fogg Hill, about 5 miles south of Victor.

Running downhill in a panic, about 165 sheep from the Siddoway herd were  killed, trampled and smothered in their terror. Two wolves, which were witnessed by a herder at the scene, killed about another dozen sheep. The final tally: 119 lambs and 57 ewes dead. Price tag: $20,000.

In the weeks leading to the sheep pileup, the Pine Creek Pack had been actively preying on the Siddoway sheep, Grimm said.

“We’ve confirmed 10 other kills in that area this year,” Grimm said.

“They’ve had a huge amount of problems over the years,” he said of the Siddoway Sheep Company. “It looks like about 15 to 20 depredations since 2006 that are confirmed.”

A press release sent out by company following last weekend’s fatal wolf encounter alleges much higher losses to predators.

“Siddoway Sheep Company has lost about 250 head of livestock to wolf, bear and coyote depredation since June,” the release said, adding that Great Pyrenees guard dogs and horses also have been killed.

At least one Idaho conservation group argues that the Siddoway Sheep Company should not be grazing in the Caribou-Targhee in such a predator-dense area.

“The problem is not the wolves, but subsidized domestic sheep grazing,” said Travis Bruner, public lands director for the Western Watersheds Project.

“It costs less than one penny per sheep per day to graze public land,” Bruner said.

The Caribou-Targhee’s Burbank allotment, where the sheep crush occurred, cost the Siddoway Sheep Company $866.70 for a three-month grazing permit, for example.

Ranchers are more willing to take risks with predators, Bruner said, because the government is “almost giving away public forage to wealthy ranchers.”

The loss of federal Endangered Species Act protections also indirectly helps ranchers graze livestock on predator-heavy public allotments, he said. Suspected livestock eaters now can be removed with a phone call.

“Given the de-listing of wolves, [public lands grazing] poses more of a threat to wolves today because there’s much less regulation over when wolves can be killed in response to depredation,” Bruner said.

According to the latest Idaho Wolf Monitoring Progress report, 73 wolves were killed in Idaho last year either by “agency removal” or from livestock producers who held legal take permits. Those wolves were suspected of killing 73 cattle, 312 sheep and two dogs.

Depredation and removal numbers are lower in Wyoming, where the wolf population is about half of Idaho’s.

Last year, 43 Equality State wolves were killed in response to killing 44 cattle, 112 sheep, three dogs and a horse. So far in 2013 another 14 wolves have been killed in response to the loss of 33 livestock.

The extreme loss of sheep last weekend was the largest livestock loss from one incident in Grimm’s 22 years on the job.

The “pileup” phenomenon is not a new one to sheep ranchers, said Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Woolgrowers Association.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard of wolves causing it,” Boyd said. “Every two, three, four years, it’ll happen from black bears.”

The answer to controlling livestock depredation on public lands grazing allotments, he said, is managing the predators.

“The wolves are here to stay,” Boyd said. “What we hope is that we can manage these populations.

“When you get severe depredation like that, the wolves need to be removed,” he said, “and by removed, I mean killed. You got to take them out.”

In the case of the Pine Creek pack, wildlife officials did just that.

The Pine Creek Pack numbered six adult animals at the end of 2012, according to Idaho’s wolf monitoring report.

With nine pups and four of the six Pine Creek adults eliminated, the pack’s future is in question. That leaves two adult wolves — potentially enough to form a new pack — still standing.


By Eric Barker / Lewiston Tribune
Updated Jan 8, 2014 at 12:01AM - Published Jan 7, 2014 at 10:54PM

The hunters behind the little-known Foundation For Wildlife Management know three things about trapping wolves.

First, it is a much more effective wolf-management tool than hunting. Wolf hunters have a success rate of less than 1 percent, while trappers enjoy a success rate near 25 percent.

Second, wolf trapping is time consuming and expensive. Traps need to be checked at least once every three days, and that can involve driving hundreds of miles.

“It costs me $48 a day on an average day, and I have to go every 72 hours,” said Jack Hammack, of Sandpoint, Idaho, a founding member of the group. “It’s typically between a 10- and a 13-hour day.”

It takes so much time and money to be a serious wolf trapper that group members feared many hunters, even those like themselves who desperately want to see wolf populations thinned, would either not take up trapping or not stick with it. So they formed the foundation, a sort of wolf-trapping cooperative that essentially pays regular- joe trappers to kill wolves.

People can join the group for $35. Those who join and then successfully trap a wolf can submit their expenses and be reimbursed up to $500 per wolf.

Hammack said it has increased the number of active trappers in the Panhandle Region, and the idea is ripe for export to other areas of the state and perhaps even to Montana.

That leads to the third thing they know about wolf trapping and wolves in general: It is an extremely controversial and emotional issue.

“We haven’t had a whole lot of publicity to this point. We have avoided it and been able to be successful without it,” Hammack said. “It’s so easy to get unwanted publicity. All we are trying to do is help the department reach its objectives.”

They saw what happened in Salmon recently when the group Idaho For Wildlife held a wolf and coyote hunting derby. Environmental groups filed a lawsuit in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the derby, which eventually resulted in 21 dead coyotes and no dead wolves.

They no doubt recall the uproar two years ago when a trapper near Elk City paused and posed for a photograph in front of a trapped wolf before dispatching the animal. They are aware an Idaho Fish and Game program that is paying a trapper to kill wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area has drawn attention from environmental groups. They also know some will label their program a bounty.

But as they look to expand their reach, they know publicity is coming and probably necessary. The group will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the department’s Clearwater regional headquarters in Lewiston. The group is also scheduled to give a report Jan. 16 at the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting in Boise.



January 2. 2013

The group named Idaho for Wildlife advertised and sponsored a Coyote and Wolf Derby on December 28 & 29.2013, to take place in Salmon, Idaho.
Within days there were no less than 6 petitions to protest this event.

Wild Earth Guardians filed for a restraining order to halt the derby from occurring on public land on December 23. 2013. Days later, a federal judge ruled that the derby would be permitted to proceed.

Within this week threats of violence and vitriolic conversations took place online between the pro wolfs and the anti wolfs. 
A vehicle was vandalized during the Derby, 21 Coyotes were killed, and no one in Idaho slaughtered a wolf.
The news of this event was covered in the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, and I've been told picked up by the BBC, although I can't find it.
Think it is safe to say that this event put Salmon, Idaho front and center of the ongoing pro and anti wolf controversy. No need to post every article that was published, a Google search will provide that.

Yesterday I posted this article about the aftermath of the derby in Salmon, Idaho. It was well worth reading as it allowed us to see what happened from a Salmon citizen's point of view.

Aftermath of Idaho Wolf Derby For Residents
Posted on January 1, 2014

Immediately after posting it, there was a comment from a pro wolf on Google plus saying that someone should "kill the hunters", followed by another pro wolf saying "I agree." 

Seeing that I had just posted a request asking folks to seriously consider the effect of their words online, and that it was ignored, I became frustrated and deleted the news in order to remove the threat comments. 

Last night I found this on a Wisconsin wolf hunting Facebook page .




The following editorial is written by a someone asking us to understand life in Salmon, Idaho, and her view on the War on Wolves. 

It is not a view I share, but thought that she should be heard.

Reposted on December 31.2013 via:





Petitioning Mr. Tom Tidwell 








Here is the official page for U.S.Department of the Interior


List of Congress members, state by state. 

You will find your Senators and your Representatives here:

Find your United States Senators here:


Find your United States House of Representatives here:


From Center for Biological Diversity
Just two years ago, gray wolves lost federal protection in Idaho. Since then 859 of these beautiful animals have been killed in aggressive, sometimes brutal hunting and trapping seasons. And now the state wants to take the carnage a step further: This holiday season Idaho is allowing a privately sponsored wolf and coyote "derby."

Just after Christmas, on Dec. 28 and 29, Idaho will host a cruel contest where hunters will compete to see who can kill the biggest wolf and bag the most wolves and coyotes over the weekend. This derby is hosted by an Idaho sportsmen's group and approved by the state.

As if these disgusting contests weren't bad enough, a hired gunman's being paid to hole up in a taxpayer-funded cabin until he slaughters two entire wolf families residing in the national forest. The U.S. Forest Service gave him permission to be on public lands for the hunt, and he's funded by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game ostensibly because killing these wolves could boost the elk population for human hunters.

Take urgent action now to contact Idaho agency heads, elected officials and business leaders to express your outrage over the planned wolf- and coyote-killing contest and oppose the hired wolf-killing gunman in Idaho's wilderness area.


From Defenders of Wildlife
On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife and our more than one million members and supporters, 6,175 of which reside in Idaho, I urge you to take action to prevent the "first annual coyote and wolf derby" scheduled to take place in Salmon on December 28th and 29th. This event, boasting cash prizes for killing wildlife, would set a dangerous precedent and recalls the extermination practices that led to the extirpation and listing of the gray wolf.

This event promotes unethical hunting practices with regard to wolves, and sets precedence for future killing contests.  The Salmon Zone has a quota of 45, with 40 wolves remaining. This type of event could lead to harvest levels over the quota, and it may be impossible to properly monitor and enforce hunting regulations during this activity. A competitive derby-style hunt is a clear sign of anti-wolf bias and extremism and is exactly what the conservation community feared would happen when wolves were delisted in the Northern Rockies. 

Idaho Fish and Game should strive for excellence in wildlife management by enforcing a predator management policy that it adopted 13 years ago which stated that it "will not support any contests or similar activities involving the taking of predators which may portray hunting in an unethical fashion, devalue the predator, and which may be offensive to the general public." I ask that you apply this policy to the fullest extent and take all necessary steps to stop this contest. Choosing not to support this derby is not enough; it is up to your agency to act to prevent it.

In particular, we ask you to implement an emergency closure of the Salmon Zone and other proximal units to prevent this derby.  Idaho for Wildlife is using this contest to demonize predators and it is based upon hate and disrespect for the targeted species.  As such, it flies in the face of Idaho Fish and Game's professed vision of ethical hunting and should be strongly opposed by the agency.  

According to Idaho Fish and Game officials this is believed to be the "first competitive wolf shoot to be held in the continental United States since 1974" when gray wolves became listed as endangered. I urge you to act in a manner that is consistent with your agency's past stated opposition to derby hunts and end this and future contests before they begin.



Thank you Windswept 23 !

by Alicia Graef
December 18, 2013 ~ 7:00 pm  
This year while most people will be enjoying a holiday break and winding down after Christmas, a hunters’ rights group in Idaho has something special planned to bring people together: It will be hosting the first predator killing contest in decades to take out wolves and coyotes the weekend of December 28-29.

The event is being sponsored by Idaho for Wildlife, which is calling the contest “an incredible opportunity to team up with your son or daughter during Christmas break and spend some quality time in the gorgeous Salmon, Idaho Country!”

The group will be awarding trophies and prize money for killing the largest wolf and most coyotes, among other things, and is offering special prizes for a youth category for children between the ages of 10 and 14.
The group states on its website that its mission is to protect the state’s hunting heritage and “to fight against all legal and legislative attempts by the animal rights and anti-gun organizations” to take it away. It also claims the contest is to keep wolves in check and raise awareness about diseases.

Environmentalists and animal lovers, however, have a different take on things and are condemning the contest for what it really is: an offensive, indefensible and reckless waste of life. It isn’t even about wildlife management, or hunting, but is about glorifying killing for fun and personal gain. Even many hunters agree that killing for prizes is unethical and violates fair chase.

According to Defenders of Wildlife:

“Organizers of this so-called wolf derby admit that one purpose of the event is to show the world that no one can stop them from killing wolves – not you, not me, and especially not the federal government. It’s a horrific demonstration of what happens when wolves are prematurely stripped of Endangered Species Act protection.”

Ironically, the contest is set to start on the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Idaho opened season on wolves two years ago after they lost federal protection. Since the season opened this year on August 30, 154 wolves have already been killed.

Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, said about that contest that, “it is abundantly clear that the very practices that sent wolves to the brink of extinction still endanger their persistence.”

Regardless of the species involved in these types of contests, these alleged hunters are overlooking the inherent value of the wild animals they’re so determined to destroy. It’s been well established that coyotes and wolves play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems as apex predators.  If this group were really interested in working towards balancing wildlife or protecting livestock, then this contest and the mass killing that will ensue would not be taking place.

Hopefully the people that support this type of massacre will one day realize that they are part of a world where all species, even dreaded predators, have a role to play so that all life can continue. Hopefully they will recognize the importance of fostering compassion toward all life around us.

On a brighter note, according to a press release from WildEarth Guardians, approximately one million Americans came forward to oppose stripping endangered species protections from wolves before the public comment period closed yesterday, which is the largest number of comments ever submitted on a federal decision involving an endangered species.
Idaho’s little contest just continues to prove that prematurely delisting wolves and turning management over to the states that are clearly hostile towards them will turn what could be a great conservation success story into a complete disaster.


Petitions to #StopIdahoWolfHunts 










Tell the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill their responsibility to "Keep Wilderness Wild" by removing Idaho's wolf-trapper from its ranger cabins.


Recently, we learned that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game had hired a trapper to go into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area to kill every member of the Golden and Monumental wolf packs.

Astoundingly, the United States Forest Service (USFS) is acquiescing‎ to Idaho and letting that state's hired trapper stay in its ranger cabins and use its federally-funded airfield. This appalling betrayal of public trust must be immediately rectified and not repeated.

Take action! Tell the USFS to remove the trapper from publicly-funded ranger cabins and deny future access to USFS airfields.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game contends it needs to kill all of the wolves from these two packs in order to bolster elk herds for recreational hunting. The shocking arrogance of the state of Idaho even requesting to access a U.S. Wilderness Area to destroy two wolf packs entirely is staggering. The capitulation by the US Forest Service is disappointing and not in keeping with the proud history of the agency. It is in complete contrast to the slogan of the National Wilderness Preservation System to "Keep Wilderness Wild".

Ironically, the area that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have sent their hired trapper is named after one of the original sponsors of the Wilderness Act, Senator Frank Church. Undoubtedly, Senator Church would look unkindly upon the abandonment of responsibility by USFS Chief Thomas Tidwell in granting nearly unrestrained access to what is little more than a freelance wildlife exterminator.

Demand that USFS Chief Tidwell and Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom protect wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness from Idaho's extreme anti-wolf policies.

We have very little time to right this wrong--Idaho's trapper is already on the ground. Please take action right now and share with a friend on Facebook, by email or on Twitter.

Thank you for your commitment to wildlife and wild places.



December 17, 2013 

By Rocky Barker
Idaho's Department of Fish and Game has hired a hunter to eliminate two wolf packs.

The agency previously hired hunter-trappers to kill wolves in the Panhandle Region and the Lolo area in north-central Idaho. But this is the first time it has hired someone to reduce wolf numbers in the land encompassing the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The decision has a prominent backcountry filmmaker and wolf researcher raising questions about why federal resources are employed to promote predator control in the wilderness.

"I can understand a reasonable hunting season on wolves, they are considered a game animal in Idaho," said Isaac Babcock, of McCall. "But when Fish and Game hires a bounty hunter to go live in designated wilderness in a Forest Service cabin with the goal of eliminating entire wolf packs — something seems terribly wrong with that."

The killing is necessary because wolves and other predators are eating too many elk calves, and the population has not recovered to the agency's goals, said Jeff Gould, Idaho Fish and Game wildlife bureau chief.
Sport hunters have a hard time getting into the area, Gould said. They hired hunter-trapper Gus Thoreson, of Salmon, to see if he can be a cost-effective method of population control.

"The whole goal is to alleviate some of the impacts wolves are having on the elk herds," Gould said.

Fish and Game has an official memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Forest Service to use each other's facilities in the wilderness when carrying out their missions. So, Fish and Game asked for permission for Thoreson to use the Cabin Creek administrative site and airstrip on Big Creek in the Payette National Forest. The University of Idaho turned down a similar request for use of its airstrip at Taylor Ranch because that facility is used only for research and education, a U of I spokesman said.

District Ranger Anthony Botello Krassel said he authorized the use of the Forest Service sites "strictly for the purposes of managing wildlife." "All of their management has to abide by wilderness management rules like we do," he said. "Usually we don't get involved in the management of wildlife, that's up to them."

Thoreson arrived there late last week — flying into the airstrip on Cabin Creek, then flying into the Flying B, where he picked up a horse and three mules to ride into Cabin Creek. Babcock, who was caretaking at Taylor Ranch on Big Creek, met him and rode part of the way to Cabin Creek with him. Thoreson told Babcock he was to focus on the Golden Pack that lives in the lower Big Creek/Middle Fork area, as well as the Monumental Pack that lives 11 miles upstream from Cabin Creek, Babcock said.

Babcock was a biologist for the Nez Perce tribe for 13 years, spending much of that time in Idaho's wilderness as he monitored and collared wolves. He and his wife, Bjornen, were featured in a 2012 PBS Nature program called "River of No Return," which they filmed and produced.

"I've followed these wolves through the re-introduction, delisting and becoming a game animal — and now I'm watching us step back 100 years to see wolves viewed as vermin predators," he said. Fish and Game paid $22,500 for aerial killing in 2012 in the Lolo area that resulted in the killing of 14 wolves. Gould did not know offhand Monday how much the agency would eventually pay for Thoreson's salary and expenses. Fish and Game prefers that sport hunters kill enough wolves to allow the elk population to be productive.

"If you're looking for cost benefits you remove an entire pack," Gould said. "It's going to have a longer-term benefit than removing members of the pack." "We're trying to stabilize the trend here with the long-term goal of (elk) recovery," he said.

In January, Fish and Game estimated Idaho's wolf population at 683, an 11 percent drop from the year before. The highest was in 2009 when it estimated 859 wolves were in the state, also the highest in the northern Rockies.

Rocky Barker: 377-6484








Wildlife advocates are condemning a wolf/coyote killing “Derby”, scheduled this Saturday, January 9, at Twin Falls, organized by the Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW).
“This event has no place in the 21st Century", says Rich Hurry of the Boulder-White Clouds Council, a conservation group based in Central Idaho. We are urging citizens to contact event sponsors to protest this barbaric event."
Last November, a coalition of groups including Boulder-White Clouds Council and individuals asked Nikon to withdraw their sponsorship of a SWF predator derby in Pocatello. Nikon agreed. The company's name no longer appears on the Idaho SFW website. Among the businesses sponsoring the Twin Falls SFW Predator Derby are Sportsman's Warehouse, Cabela's and a local restaurant, the Grubbin' BBQ.
Grubbin’ BBQ owner Sean Cluff is listed on SFW’s site as an event contact person. Another contact is SFW Executive Director, Nate Helms, an outspoken opponent of wolves in Idaho.
For the first time, wolves will be included as one of the moving targets sought after by hunters paying $50 each to enter the event. According to the SFW website, there will be points and prizes awarded to participants for shooting the most predators. A wolf is worth three points, while coyote, fox and bobcat are worth two points. When contacted about the fact that wolves were now part of SFW's Idaho predator derby, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said they had not heard this, but it was not illegal.
Hunters displaying dead coyotes with a Sportsman's Warehouse banner behind them, are shown of the SFW website. http://www.sfwidaho.org/SFW/Idaho_Predator_Derby.html
"Predator killing tournaments are ecologically unsound, ethically indefensible and antithetical to conservation biology and ecosystem-based science," states Camilla Fox, Founding Director of Project Coyote and Wildlife Consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute.
Jerry Black, a member of Wildlife Watchers says: "There's no fair chase in trapping or calling in wolves or coyotes, and nobody's feeding their family with wolf or coyote meat. This is a blatant example of animal cruelty, indecency and shows a total lack of respect for life. I'm surprised and disappointed that any businesses would sponsor an event that celebrates the needless pain and suffering of an animal."
Black adds, "I won’t be shopping at Cabela's or Sportsman's Warehouse again, until they stop sponsoring predator contests. And, I certainly won't be eating ribs at the Grubbin' BBQ." Hurry agrees and is urging his friends and relatives to do the same.
 “Coyote killing contest are a totally ineffective management strategy given the species’ resiliency and ability to biologically rebound,” said Fox.
The groups opposing the contest say that while coyotes will prey on larger mammals, their diet consists mainly of small mammals including mice, voles, rats, ground squirrels and rabbits -- providing free rodent control services to ranchers. They also point out that progressive cattle and sheep ranchers are living with coyotes using non-lethal methods.
Hurry, a deer hunter adds: “Predator hunters might believe they are helping deer numbers to increase, but in reality there are many factors that impact deer survival. These include weather, winter range, starvation, quality of summer habitat, disease, poaching, hunting mortality, wounding and roadkill.”
He goes on to say that predators help keep elk and deer herds genetically robust  by culling the weak, sick and diseased, unlike hunters who seek out the largest “trophy” bulls or bucks. 

Much like wolves, generally, unexploited coyotes may live in social family groups, with only the alpha pair breeding once a year in mid-February and giving birth 63 days later. Other females, though physiologically capable of reproducing, are "behaviorally sterile." Coyotes respond to lethal control with a number of biological mechanisms, which can result in increased pup survival.
In a predator “contest”, so-called hunters slaughter coyotes (or wolves) using various techniques to attract the coyote into rifle range, including a distress call that sounds like an injured animal. Wolves and coyotes, who generally mate for life, feel a strong bond to other members of their species, and when they hear a cry for help, may come to investigate.
Coyote and wolf hunters have also been known to bait in coyotes and wolves for "sport" shooting, using livestock that have died from old age, illness, or injury.
Coyotes have no protection whatsoever under current Idaho law. Coyotes can be run over with a vehicle, including being chased to exhaustion and flattened with a snowmobile. When this happened in the Sawtooth Valley near Stanley in 1999, a photo of the pancaked coyote received widespread negative press for the state of Idaho.
Predator killing contests are being protested all over the United States, most recently in Maine, and in Fallon NV this weekend.
Read more about the Twin Falls "Derby" at:  http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com

 2013 Idaho State Journal. 


BLOG: Wildlife Activists Oppose Wolf Killing Competition





Petitions to #StopIdahoWolfHunts 



Reposted from Save Our Wolves


November 14, 2013

That will make a lot of wolves haters happy… right ? Because they are most than likely looking forward to end the life of an innocent wolf roaming at the wrong place at the wrong moment. Hopefully not too many if not at all will get caught as winter is coming, and it’s getting cold. Days are shorter… Be safe beloved wolves. 

Jerome, Idaho

Wolf trapping season begins November 15th.

Some hunters are looking to try their hand at wolf trapping this season, but Idaho Fish and Game says, “not so fast”.

Before wolf tags are bought, a mandatory wolf trapping class must be completed.

Says Steve Roberts, a senior conservation officer with the department, “we felt it was very important if people were trapping the wolves that they would start off on the right path. It gets their mandatory requirement out of the way and gives them a starting point where to do.”

Jeff Ashmead, wolf trapper instructor, “we’re teaching ethics and responsibility of trapping these animals and the difference between these species and others they may have trapped before.”

Instructors insist that trapping these animals does not come easy.

Ashmead explains, “it’s a very challenging species to catch up with because they range hundreds of square miles…the size and strength of the animal, their movement and how far they move. They’re a pack species so there are some traits different.”

Trapping the wolves isn’t the only difficulty for Magic Valley trappers.

Says Ashmead, “there are certain areas open for trapping, mostly in central and northern Idaho. Southern does not have any trapping areas open for wolves.”

Still, experts insist the sport is worth giving a shot.

Mike Werner, class participant, notes, “there’s less and less trappers all the time. I think it’s a good tradition to pass on and this is one way to approach the issue to get educated.”


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Reposted from Exposing the Big Game


Posted on November 14, 2013

Associated Press, January 11, 2007: 
“Idaho’s governor [Butch Otter] said Tuesday he will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state’s gray wolves after the federal government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act…. ‘I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself,’ Otter said earlier Thursday during a rally of about 300 hunters…copyrighted wolf in waterThe hunters, many wearing camouflage clothing and blaze-orange caps, applauded wildly during his comments.”

Since 2009, 887 Idaho wolves have been killed by licensed hunters, with many hundreds more killed in official “control” operations.  It is estimated that there were fewer than 500 wolves remaining in the state by August, 2013. The 2013-2014 Idaho wolf season began August 30 and will continue in most of 13 state zones until the end of June 2014. The current 2013-2014 wolf season will constitute a mop-up operation by the state’s ferocious anti-wolf mob.

The Idaho political apparatus, controlled absolutely by the hunting and agricultural lobbies, is a vigorous proponent of trap-torture for Idaho wildlife. It has thus encouraged, trained and deployed an army of trappers, both amateur and professional, to prolong the suffering of Idaho wolves since 2011.

Idaho wolf trapping season opened November 15, 2013, and will continue across nine game zones until March 31, 2014.  Thus, Idaho wolves continue to be subjected to the terror and cruelty of steel foothold traps and choking snares. Many of these animals, including the youngest of pups, are routinely forced to await their violent death for up to 72 hours while suffering terror, pain, hunger and dehydration.

Zone 1–Idaho Panhandle Zone:  (12) Idaho wolves gunned with rifles or hand guns.  One animal shot with a handgun was a tiny black pup so young that it had no teeth visible.  A bow hunter in this zone also arrowed a gray puppy, a particularly painful way for a canine to die.  Two others wolves were killed on private property in August before the season officially began. Licensed wolf kill is legal year round in the Panhandle zone as long as the carnage takes place on private property.  These two pre-season wolves were seen together and shot at the same time.  Their bodies were retrieved days later, indicating that they were able to run while wounded and therefore suffered for an unknown number of hours or days before dying.

Note: One of our three selected wolf packs for adoption, the Bumblebee Pack, resides in Zone 1. Adoption bracelets are available [link]. Your donations will help sustain our website so that volunteers can monitor and report activities by state, federal and private interests bent on reducing wolves to a genetically unsustainable population. Adoption bracelets are available.

Zone 2–Palouse-Hells Canyon Zone: (1)  wolf  arrowed. This was a gray animal listed as a pup.

Zone 3–Lolo Zone:  (1) Idaho wolf gunned.

Note:  One of our three packs selected for adoption is the Kelly Creek Pack, which undoubtedly lives a perilous existence in the Lolo “hot” zone. Lolo wolves have been among the hardest hit in the great Idaho wolf purge. Government agents in helicopters gunned-down some of the wolves killed in this zone during 2011-2012. Adoption bracelets for survivors are available. Adoption bracelets for survivors are available.

Zone 4–Dworshak-Elk City Zone:   (3)  wolves gunned, one wolf arrowed.  One of the wolves, listed as a puppy, was blasted with a hand gun.  The arrowed animal was listed as a yearling.

Zone 5–Selway Zone:   (3)  wolves gunned.  Two of the three were listed as pups.

Zone 6–Middle Fork Zone:   (3) wolves gunned.   Two of the three were listed as pups.

Zone 7–Salmon Zone:   (2)   gunned.  One animal was listed as a pup, the other a yearling.

Zone 8–McCall-Weiser Zone:  (3)  wolves gunned.  One animal was listed as a young of year pup.

Zone 9–Sawtooth Zone:   (1)  wolf arrowed.

Zone 10–Southern Mountain Zone:  (5) wolves gunned. Three of these animals  were listed as yearlings.  Another was listed as a  pup terminated by a hand gun.

Note:  One of our three packs up for adoption is the Red Warrior Pack, located in the Sawtooth Mountains within this zone. Adoption bracelets are available. Adoption bracelets are available.

Zone 11–Beaverhead Zone:   (0)  wolves gunned.

Zone 12—Island Park Zone:  (3)  wolves gunned.

Zone 13—Southern Idaho Zone:  (0) wolves gunned.

Of the 38 wolves obliterated during this time period, 15  (39%) were listed as puppies or yearlings.


Why aren't the ranchers doing a better job of taking care of their sheep?

That is not recent news, but it is a similar situation to this recent news:


There are a couple other articles covering this incident here:

< O >

There are better ways to control North America's wolf populations than removing wildlife protections and permitting hunting

Joseph Mayton
theguardian.com, Wednesday 14 August 2013 07.30 EDT
Snarling Gray Wolf Photograph: Jeff Vanuga/Corbis

Decades after its near-extinction, the wolf of Montana is back in numbers. 

They encroach on natural habitats, kill wildlife and destroy native landscapes.

While this is, in many ways, the modus operendi of human populations, it is the excuse now being given by the US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) in its call on the federal government to remove the gray wolf from endangered species lists. All for the purpose of using human "ingenuity" (read: guns) to help reduce the population to a more "manageable" level.

Activists are beginning to take to the social media networks in calling for the government to not slaughter wolves. One petition, began last week, has already garnered several thousand signatures en route to its 10,000 goal.

With thousands of wolves across the country struggling to survive after decades of reintroduction since humans slaughtered nearly the entire population, it seems odd that calls have grown stronger to remove them from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the FWS, in the Great Lakes region, there are roughly 4,000 wolves; in the Northern Rocky Mountains around 1,700; Washington State has nine total; the southwest about 60 wolves. In Alaska, where wolves are not protected by the ESA, there live about 10,000.

So, why have the calls for "culling" wolves increased so dramatically over the past five years, in a plan to reduce the populations which the FWS terms "control"?

The modern wolf story largely begins in 1995, in Idaho (my home state), when the state reintroduced a number of gray wolves into the state as part of the "experimental, non-essential" clause of the ESA. From there, the animals developed and grew in numbers across the state as wildlife biologists helped support the small ecosystems that were developed for the animals' use. And in the United States Pacific northwest, the Nez Perce Native American tribe also started their own project, which enabled a pack of wolves to live and create familial ties in a large fenced area.

Not everyone was pleased that hills covered in snow and jagged mountains – the difficult terrain of Idaho's mountains – are now home to wolves: some government officials and ordinary citizens claim the species has now overpopulated the wilderness areas and is a threat to "human activity".

As one family friend, a hunter, told me recently, the wolves are "killing livestock, attacking people in the natural parks and without action could overrun our landscape". Although he is right that wolves do attack livestock (and wild prey), there is little evidence that people are being attacked. Wolves rarely are aggressive toward humans unless threatened.

The problem is rather with the continued development on what had, historically, been remote areas; there, wolves are simply attempting to survive. With calls for removing wolves from the protection of the ESA, however, it could soon be open season for hunters – in what officials argue are "conservation" efforts to ensure the wolves' survival.

I spoke with an Idaho biologist who has worked with both the FWS and the wolf reintroduction program. He argues that human populations continue to "overuse" hunting in the name of sport and this has reduced deer and elk populations, not just in Idaho, but in the Great Lakes and Alaska. The result?

Wolves have been forced to look elsewhere for food and sustenance. This results in cattle being attacked because the regular food chain has been disrupted. Hunting wolves won't stop this problem unless all the wolves are killed.

He also pointed out that during such culls – which we have seen in Idaho and other areas – it is the adult wolves that are killed, often leaving cubs unprotected and unable to fend for themselves. "It is sad that this sort of thing continues," he added.

Activists have called for a blanket ban on wolf-killing, but there is a need to work with the FWS and those who feel threatened by wolves. We must understand that the issue of wolves is a nuanced controversy in which those directly affected by the encroaching wolf populations must be heard. There needs to be compromise that does not threaten the whole wolf population and finds sustainable solutions in the specific environments where the reintroduction process has occurred.

At the same time, we can't afford to reverse the good work of reintroduction programs and go back to the days when wolves were seen as a deadly menace to humans and their livestock – and had to be exterminated because of that perception.

< O >

Conflicts Rise Between Idaho Ranchers, 
Gray Wolves


June 26, 2013 11:55 am  •  By Brian Smith - bsmith@magicvalley.com

Wolf depredation in Idaho

2009: 76 cattle, 259 sheep

2010: 75 cattle, 148 sheep

2011: 71 cattle, 121 sheep

2012: 90 cattle, 251 sheep

Wolf Mortality

2009: 135 taken by hunters, 93 STATE control

2010: 46 taken by hunters, 80 state control

2011: 200 taken by hunters, 63 state control

2012: 330 taken by hunters, 73 state control

TWIN FALLS, Idaho • 

As the federal government seeks to pull the gray wolf off the endangered species list, conflicts between ranchers and gray wolves in south-central Idaho are on the rise, with record livestock losses last year.

Gray wolves killed 34 cattle and 79 sheep last year in the Southern Mountain region of the Sawtooth Range, which includes Camas and Blaine counties.

Statewide, they destroyed 90 cattle and 251 sheep, said Todd Grimm, state wildlife services director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In turn, hunters killed 330 wolves in Idaho in 2012, up from 200 the year before.

While other states could be affected if the wolf loses its endangered species status, Idaho has been managing its own wolf population since 2009, said Craig White, staff biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game.

Idaho had 683 wolves and at least 117 packs last year, far more than the 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs required to avoid a federal relisting of the species in the state.

Still, the wolf population was down from its 2009 peak of 856.

“Our goal, as mandated, is to keep wolves on the landscape,” White said. “We’ve just got to balance it with other interests. That doesn’t mean everyone is going to be happy with that balance.”

The record number of livestock losses, with the highest death toll in south-central Idaho, “may just be an anomaly,” Grimm said. “Sometimes things happen. We just don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see what this year’s numbers point out.”

Packs that attack livestock are removed on a case-by-case basis, he said. Last year, 73 wolves were killed as a state control measure, up from 63 in 2011. Nine of those 73 wolves were in the Southern Mountain region.

The ranchers who sustained livestock losses last year have yet to be compensated, however.

Getting By

It’s been a rough two years, said Carey-area sheep rancher John Peavey.

Wolves come at least every other night during lambing season, kill six or eight lambs but “don’t eat a thing,” destroying 50 lambs so far this year, he said.

It’s a tragic situation for ranchers, said Peavey, who owns Flat Top Sheep Co.

“We’re going to get by,” said fellow sheep rancher John Faulkner, “but we are going to kill some of them. That’s all there is to it.”
He said wolves have preyed on his sheep every year since they were reintroduced in the mid-1990s.

Grimm said officials are working to reduce wolf-livestock encounters by promoting non-lethal options, but some of those can cost more than the loss of sheep.

Peavey said he and others patrol the flock nightly using flashing lights. They do their best, but it often is not enough, he said.

Preventive measures are effective, though, said Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for the Defenders of Wildlife. In western Blaine County, in a preventive project area with 27,000 sheep, only four were lost to wolves in 2012.

Ranchers can use several methods, she said, including guard dogs, human herders, lighting, electric fencing and corrals bedecked with flags that flap in the wind.

Ranchers also can keep their livestock away from areas where wolves have established dens. They also can remove attractants such as carcass pits or use higher-tech devices such as “rag boxes” that make loud noises when wolves with a tracking collar come near.

Adjusting ranching methods also would help, Stone said. Shed lambing offers more protection than range lambing, where pregnant ewes are allowed to roam and raise their lambs in clusters vulnerable to prey.

Peavey said shed lambing is too expensive and range lambing is a “beautiful process” that lets sheep “do what they’re supposed to.”

Easing the Pain

Although he’s lost many sheep to wolves, Peavey hasn’t been paid through the state’s compensation program for two years, he said.

A lamb is worth $150 to $200, but he said death costs go beyond what he can count. Any reimbursement is a “small part of easing the pain.”

“The carcasses are just part of the problem,” he said. “You’ve got moms killed, and their babies are out there waiting to be fed and they’re going to die. But that’s not part of the depredation (reimbursement).“

The Defenders of Wildlife had compensated ranchers for wolf attacks on livestock, but that program ended in the fall of 2010, said Dustin Miller, administrator of the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation.

A five-year federal program was developed to pay compensation nationwide, but that funding recently fizzled because of federal sequestration efforts, Miller said. In 2011, the program paid Idaho ranchers about $100,000 for livestock losses.

Miller said his office is applying for federal funds to cover livestock losses in 2012. But money will be tight, with $850,000 up for grabs between several states and Indian tribes. The money must be split between compensation and proactive deterrent efforts, he said.

“Unfortunately, we usually have the highest level of depredations in the country, and if it’s competitive, we may receive more funding than other states. But we can’t be sure,” Miller said. “We have no idea what we are going to receive, and I can’t guarantee producers who lost livestock … will be compensated at market rates.”

Helping or Hurting?

Stone is concerned by the declining Idaho wolf population since the state started managing the predator. She said the state’s treatment of wolves is more severe and aggressive than that used for other predators.

The wolf population will continue to decline as other states look to Idaho for examples of prudent management, Stone said.

Early this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the gray wolf from the threatened and endangered species list, citing a successful recovery. Some environmental groups have claimed the proposal is premature, as the species hasn’t been returned to its historic range. A 90-day comment period on the proposal is open through Sept. 11.

At least 6,100 gray wolves are in the U.S., with about 625 in Montana, 277 in Wyoming, and 4,432 in the Western Great Lakes region, including Minnesota and Wisconsin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife says.

“This traditional way of managing wildlife, where you just kill animals that (pose) a threat to livestock, it just doesn’t work,” she said. “It’s expensive, it requires a lot of helicopter time, airplane time, trapping, you lose livestock to begin with … and then you end up losing the wildlife and predators as well.”

State officials said wolf hunting would take pressure off livestock, but the opposite is true, Stone said. Hunting disrupts wolf packs, and juvenile wolves without a family are more likely to get into livestock as the pack can’t teach them how to hunt other prey, such as elk or deer.

“You’ve then got basically a bunch of teenagers running around, and they are the ones who tend to get in trouble more with people because they are not very savvy at hunting,” she said.

White disputed that claim. Wolves always will look for the “biggest bang for their buck” with the least risk, he said.

“I think that’s a little simplistic to say that a sub-adult wolf who didn’t have an adult model mentor became a thug … because there was no mentor to teach them the right way to hunt naturally,” he said.

Evidence indicates 80 to 90 percent of packs stay intact if one member is killed, White said. Moreover, where wolves have been removed after livestock depredation, new packs move in and cause the same problems, he said.

Without hunting, wolf populations would grow, and so would livestock depredation, Peavey said. When it’s a rancher’s livelihood being eaten, “you worry about today’s wolves, not next year’s wolves.”

Faulkner agreed, saying he has had less trouble as a result of hunting and packs being fractured.

“You’re only dealing with three or four wolves, whereas before you were dealing with up to 22,” he said. “Those big packs are way more vicious than the small ones.”

Open Spaces

Hunting and trapping efforts influence wolf pack movement, said Regan Berkley, a Jerome-based wildlife biologist for Fish and Game. But predators migrate largely to follow prey and to claim territory in open space.

On a state map of wolf pack locations, southern Idaho is noticeably void of the predator. While sightings occur, a resident wolf pack south of the Snake River has never been documented, Berkley said.

Opinions vary on whether wolves could establish a presence there.

Berkley said it’s a slim chance. The area has space, elk and deer, but wolf encounters likely would be met with swift control.

Also, she said, the environment isn’t quite suitable. Wolves can live in a variety of habitats, but southern Idaho and the Magic Valley don’t provide areas where they can hide or establish dens.

“It’s not a place that has some of the classic habitat characteristics that are typically associated with wolves,” she said.

White wasn’t as quick to dismiss the notion. Wolves have been known to travel long distances across state lines to establish packs, the biologist said.

“Certainly a wolf could take a little walkabout and end up in the mountains on the Idaho -Nevada border south of you,” he said. “… Anything’s possible, but there’s not a lot down there to hold ’em and a lot of potential for conflicts that would get them in trouble.”

Peavey said the foothills south of the Twin Falls area look like wolf habitat to him.

“I suspect when we have a large winter with lots of cold and snow, the elk will migrate into the desert area south of Carey and the Snake River plain,” he said. “They’ll be down there killing elk and livestock.”

Faulkner agreed, saying he once saw four wolves south of Glenns Ferry.

“Don’t worry — they’ll be down into Utah,” the rancher said. “You don’t need to worry about those wolves surviving.”

photo via blog~dot~libero~dot~it

Photo credit: howlingforjustice.wordpress(dot)com

Photo credit: NatGeo stock

Photo (c) Alison Mazur

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