Idaho Approves Plan to Kill Majority of their Wolf Population
At the Wolf Conservation Center, we work tirelessly to educate the public about the crucial role wolves play in our ecosystem and to advocate for their protection and survival. We’ve written in the past about threats facing gray wolves in the Northern Rockies throughout Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, but the newest Idaho Wolf Management plan goes above and beyond even our worst fears when it comes to sanctioned wolf killing. We are deeply concerned by the recent decision of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to approve a wolf management plan that aims to reduce the state’s wolf population by nearly two-thirds over the next several years.
This drastic plan, presented by Fish and Game Wildlife Bureau Chief Jon Rachael, outlines a reduction from an estimated population of 1,337 wolves to a mere 500 animals. This proposal has drawn criticism not only from scientists and conservation groups, but also from those who understand the essential role wolves play in maintaining balance in our ecosystems.
Shaky Wolf Counting Methods
Even if the wolf count were correct, the bloodshed proposed by Idaho Fish and Game would but horrific, but we think even those numbers are optimistic. We join the critics who argue that the method of counting wolves through trail camera observations, as used by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, may overestimate the population numbers. If the actual numbers are lower than estimated, reducing the wolf population to 500 could bring Idaho dangerously close to triggering federal wolf management, due to the risk of genetic bottlenecking and potential extinction.
We agree with Suzanne Asha Stone, director of the International Wildlife Coexistence Network, who aptly stated, “It’s not management when you’re pressuring a wildlife population at such a low level. That’s just persecution.” Wolves, once eradicated from Idaho, were reintroduced less than three decades ago. Their recovery was a success story, a testament to the resilience of nature and the power of protective legislation. But this new plan could undo that progress, and in short order.
The wolf management plan approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission seems aggressively skewed toward wolf reduction, citing reasons such as the reduction of wolf predation on other wildlife and livestock.
The importance of maintaining a healthy wolf population extends beyond the wolves themselves. Wolves play a key role in balancing prey populations, contributing to the health of the ecosystems in which they live. Overhunting of wolves can lead to an overpopulation of prey species, which can in turn overgraze and deplete vegetation, leading to a cascade of negative impacts on other species and the ecosystem as a whole.
Moreover, this plan does not take into account the intrinsic value of wolves. As intelligent, social animals, wolves have a right to exist and thrive in their natural habitat. They are an integral part of North American wilderness, a symbol of our nation’s wild heritage.
We urge the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to reconsider this plan. We ask them to embrace a more sustainable, science-based approach to wolf management that respects the intrinsic value of these magnificent creatures and acknowledges the critical role they play in our ecosystems. Only then can we truly say we are managing our wildlife responsibly and ethically.
We believe that through education, collaboration, and commitment to a balanced approach, we can ensure a future where wolves continue to play their crucial role in the wild, contributing to the health and diversity of our shared ecosystems.
We call on everyone who cares about our natural world to join us in this effort. Together, we can make a difference for wolves, for wildlife, and for the future of our planet.
A Call For Ethical Management
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s mission is to preserve, protect, and perpetuate wildlife for all citizens of the state. If the current management strategy for wolves deviates from this mission, it may be necessary to reconsider federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Wolf Conservation Center implores the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to reconsider its approach, and to prioritize the ecological, ethical, and economic factors at play. A balanced, science-based approach to wolf management is the only way forward.
Join us in this crucial fight for wolf protection. Our nation’s wolves are in dire need of your voice and support. The recent political maneuvering in Idaho, aiming to drastically cut down the wolf population, has escalated the urgency of this issue. Now, more than ever, we need your help. Please participate in our Action Alert and urge the Biden administration to enact an immediate emergency listing of wolves in the western U.S. Your involvement can make a world of difference. Stand with us as we strive to preserve these magnificent creatures, uphold the integrity of our ecosystems, and foster a healthier, respectful relationship with our wildlife. Don’t let the voices of a few dictate the fate of many. Act now, for the wolves, and for the future of our natural world.