The IDFG wants to kill over half of Idaho’s wolves between 2023 and 2028, in a brazen attempt to get as close to eradication without forcing the Feds to re-list. There are major problems that the “war on wolves” creates. We suggest you use some of these facts to inform your comment, which you can leave at the IDFG website here. Deadline is March 6th at 8am Mountain Standard Time.
- Lethal management of wolves leads to increased livestock losses. Packs often disband when their breeding pair is killed. The remaining wolves target easy prey like livestock, rather than wild game. Wieglus, et al. 2014.
- Killing wolves is costly to taxpayers. The State of Idaho allocated over $1 million to kill wolves last year , and spent almost $3000 per wolf via helicopter shooting in 2021. Helicopter shooting sprees are a waste of money that could go into monitoring dozens of rare species throughout the state.
- Predators are not a leading cause of livestock mortality. According to the USDA, predators accounted for 2.4% of all livestock losses in 2015. Wolves in Idaho accounted for ~900 of 40,000 losses, or 2.25%. Respiratory problems account for about 25% of livestock losses nationwide.
- Elk and deer populations are healthier with wolves. CWD has large impacts on ungulate populations, but it is likely much less in Yellowstone, where wolves roam (relatively) freely. Brandell, et al. 2022
- Trapping endangers children, pets, and wildlife species. It is indiscriminate, cruel, and should be limited on public lands. Wolves can be baited in Idaho, leading to more loss of rare predators like fisher and wolverine.
- Elk and deer populations are above quota in almost all of Idaho. Elk harvest has been over 20,000 for the state for over 8 consecutive years. In areas without wolves, elk and deer often overgraze the landscape.
- A 60% decrease in population will make long-term wolf survival less likely. Large losses in population will almost certainly fragment populations, reducing genetic diversity, a major element of species survival (Kardos, et al. 2021) and potentially leading to hybridization with coyotes or dogs. Rutledge, et al. 2012
- IDFG’s wolf population estimates are far from perfect. Brazen attempts to reduce the wolf population may lead to large losses that can be difficult to measure.
How did we get here?
Killing large percentages of the wolf population is not sensible wildlife management, it’s violent predator extirpation. The anti-predator movement has made shocking advances in the last decade.
Twelve years ago, Simpson and Tester’s 2011 wolf rider bill (a bi-partisan effort against wildlife) forced an unscientific and outdated biological assessment as the basis of their listing on the Endangered Species Act. In 2021, Idaho and Montana passed some of the most “liberal” hunting laws in the country, dropping meaningful commitments to hunting ethics or coexistence. Idaho’s law set back wildlife management a century, allowing for bounty-like hunting “refunds” to incentivize more and more hunting and trapping. Thank you for raising your voice and pushing back on these extreme quotas. Please visit the IDFG website to comment today.
Read Friends of the Clearwater’s and Wilderness Watch’s comments below.FOC-WW comments_no sigs