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Post Office Box 6313
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
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Current News & Issues: Wolves

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BWCC COMMENTS ON WOLF HUNTING

Boulder-White Clouds Council, Inc.
Box 64
Stanley ID 83278
www.wildwhiteclouds.org

May 15, 2008

Cal Groen, Director
IDFG
Box 25
Boise, ID 83707
 

SUBJECT: Please accept the comments of Boulder-White Clouds Council (BWCC), a 501(c)3 non-profit conservation group whose members live and work in the heart of central Idaho’s wolf country. We have seen and admired Idaho wolves scores of times, photographed them and want the same opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

BWCC was formed in 1989 to gain Wilderness designation for the 500,000 acre Boulder-White Cloud Mountains. We have worked on public land issues for nearly 20 years. Our five-member board has over 200 years of experience on wild lands and wildlife issues in Idaho. We have 750 members who share our concerns and support for gray wolves in Idaho. We have an extensive website with information about wolves so that the public can learn and understand them.

We were enthusiastic to see wolves restored to Idaho in 1995 and 1996. Since then, BWCC has hosted dozens of field trips to educate Idahoans about gray wolves and their importance within our natural ecosystem.

We have these specific comments.

Wolf Ecotourism is in Jeopardy due to IDFG hunting plan. Just last weekend, BWCC hosted over two dozen Sierra Club members and their families who came to Stanley to see the Basin Butte wolf pack, which happened to be on an elk kill in view. Children were able to see the wolves through spotting scopes. There are few places in the world that there is such an opportunity to see wolves.

This weekend, the ICL conference at Redfish Lake will bring 150 Idahoans to this area and there are three wolf outings scheduled. BWCC will organize these outings. For over a quarter of a century, conservation leaders have gathered at Wild Idaho! as the conference is called. For the past ten years, a wolf outing has been added to the agenda. It’s the highlight of the conference for many attendees. Many come back during the summer months to camp with their families to see and hear wolves.

Last summer, at the Sawtooth Society auction, IDFG donated a day with a wolf biologist, which was auctioned for $12,000. The purchaser, who lives in the Sawtooth Society, said he wanted to have his grandchildren see an endangered species - gray wolves.

Yet, if your wolf plan is allowed to go through, then this will be the last Spring and Summer that people will be able to observe and photograph live wolves. Once wolves are hunted, they will be on the run from humans.

So, it is with great disappointment that we read IDFG’s proposed wolf hunting plan that reads like a throwback to frontier days. We realize the political factions that rule the IDFG’s actions -- the outfitters and guides, trophy “sportsmens” groups, ranchers and the legislature.

However, we would expect IDFG to acknowledge that wolves are highly intelligent and social animals that rely on the pack structure for rearing young, hunting and overall survival. Wolves are not like black bears or mountain lions, yet IDFG continues to say wolves will be managed in the same way as bears and lions.

We have these additional comments:

  • We oppose any wolf hunting season at this time. Your plan is premature, overzealous and driven by politics and not science. IDFG totally ignores Idahoans who wish to have an opportunity to see wolves alive, rather than shot, skinned and beheaded, and paraded through Idaho towns draped over an ATV.
     

  • Minnesota has 3000 wolves and has no plan for a wolf hunt within the next five years. We urge IDFG to back off wolf hunting for at least five years, and then it should be a carefully controlled draw hunt, that is a once in a lifetime tag.
     

  • Idaho has only 700-800 wolves and is proposing a wolf hunt that could last seven months. From now until December 31, 2008, you are proposing to allow a mortality of 328 wolves. Most would come through a rifle season where a wolf tag is a cheap $11.75. The tag price alone indicates how little respect IDFG has for gray wolves in our state. We are very disappointed in this. Less than 14% of Idahoans buy a hunting license. A BSU poll showed that over 50% of Idahoans support having wolves in our state. Your plan scrapes any economic benefits that wolves could bring from ecotourism, rather you are opting for the $11.75 tag.
     

  • Alternatives 3 and 4, propose wolf hunting for seven months from August 30 through March 31. It’s hard to believe you would even propose this. All over the state, starting Labor Day weekend, wolves would be shot at including pups that are just over four months old. If the adult wolves in the pack are killed, then it leaves pups that are not ready to be on their own. On the other end of the seven month hunt, February and March is the time when wolves start to return to traditional denning sites. These areas are well known to anyone who has worked with IDFG or Wildlife Services. Plus outfitters and ranchers. With winter snows deep on the ground, it won’t be hard for “sportsmen” to follow the wolf tracks to the den sites and slaughter the wolves there. “Sportsmen” can fly around in planes and spot wolves, just as IDFG and WS does, and then go in on the ground. Wolves killed in March could include pregnant alpha females, within days of whelping pups.
     

  • Killing collared wolves - we find it incredulous that IDFG is giving the ok to kill collared wolves. If a hunter is close enough to shoot at a wolf, he/she is close enough to see the collar and not squeeze the trigger. Killing collared wolves is a waste of thousands of hours and dollars of staff time.
     

  • 72 Hour Report System. Part of the absurd regulations around wolf hunting includes the stipulation that a hunter has three days to report the kill. In the meantime, other hunters are killing wolves, and the quota that IDFG has set up in different areas could well be exceeded.

In closing, we urge you to back off on your hunting plan. If it goes forward, then it will provide an opportunity for wolf advocates to document the barbaric killing that IDFG is unleashing. Just as cameras have documented the bashing of harp seal pups, dolphins in tuna nets and wolves run to exhaustion and executed in Alaska. Idaho already has a reputation of the bunny bopper and skin head state, and now is ready to plunge into the slaughter of wolf families.

We have other concerns regarding management of gray wolves in Idaho, but those have been well detailed by Earthjustice in the lawsuit now in front of Judge Molloy.

Sincerely,
Lynne K. Stone, Director

 

Keep the Heart of Idaho Wild