Cry “Havoc!” There will be blood…and it will be wolf blood.
Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) has hired a killer to slaughter two wolf packs within the federally-protected Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. This is congressionally-designated, captital-W wilderness, certainly the one place nature should be allowed to express itself without manipulation by and for humans. Said wolf biologist and PBS filmmaker (“River of No Return”) Isaac Babcock,
…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.” ~ Idaho Statesman: “Idaho Fish and Game turns to hired hunter”
Why must two wilderness wolf packs die? “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 (IDFG’s) goals. …If you’re looking for cost benefits you remove an entire pack,” rather than just members of a pack, according to the state wildlife bureau chief. Keep in mind that wolves (who, according to nature’s plan, eat ungulates–hello?) are seen as competition by camo-clad Homo sapiens gunning for the same prey.
But at 2,366,907 acres, the Frank is vast, wild, and not easily-accessible, and “sport” wolf hunters aren’t effective at reducing population numbers on so large a landscape. Hence the hired gun, whose mission is to ensure that the remote, wild land encompassing the Middle Fork of the Salmon River (map) remains a productive elk factory serving special interest groups–hunters, outfitters, and the state management agency in their employ.
Animal advocates who are also public land advocates are baffled how this can not be a violation of the Wilderness Act. District Ranger Anthony Botello (Krassel Ranger District) told the Idaho Statesman, ”All of their (IDFG’s) management has to abide by wilderness management rules like we do.” Oh, really? We might ask Mr. Botello how wiping out native predators to manipulate elk numbers preserves wilderness character–the mandate of the Wilderness Act of 1964. According to its author, “The purpose of the Wilderness Act is to preserve the wilderness character of the areas to be included in the wilderness system, not to establish any particular use.” — Howard Zahniser, 1962
Because the Wilderness Act is the law of our land, the U.S. Forest Service needs to explain to taxpaying citizens how allowing Idaho state wildlife politics to trump federal law passes muster. Stay tuned.
And now, for something completely different…
Now let’s check in with Idaho for Wildlife, whose mission is: “To protect Idaho’s hunting and fishing heritage. To fight against all legal and legislative attempts by the animal rights and anti-gun organizations who are attempting to take away our rights and freedoms under the Constitution of the United States of America. To hold all Government and State Agencies who are stewards of our Wildlife accountable and ensure that science is used as the primary role for our Wildlife management.”
These pursuers of truth, justice, and the American way plan to extend the peace and goodwill of the season by conducting a predator-killing derby (“quality time” for parents and kids) in the days following Christmas:
Salmon (ID) is hosting a coyote and wolf derby Dec. 28-29 offering cash and trophies for among other things, killing the largest wolf and the most female coyotes. Children 10 and older can compete in the youth division. ~ Idaho Statesman: “Salmon hosts wolf and coyote derby“
You can tell right away that Idaho for Wildlife is committed to “science” because the event organizer, a big-game outfitter (website), told a Reuters reporter that “media inquiries were not welcome.” Indeed, the last thing you want is some Nosy Nelly media-type attempting to report (and twist the facts) on the science behind your predator derby! Also, criteria like “largest” and “most” are well-established indicators of the scientific method. Then there’s the campaign of knowledge-based hysteria surrounding the parasites that canids carry–a tapeworm requiring both canids and ungulates for life cycle completion. Never mind that it’s commonly distributed worldwide–it can be transmitted to humans! Be afraid…be very afraid.
Following up on this pervasive and pestilent parasitic plague, Rocky Barker writes in the Idaho Statesman, “ …no recent reports of human infections have been made in Idaho. Three documented cases came before wolves were reintroduced.”
These examples of hubris from the state known for famous potatoes make my state–Montana–seem downright wolf-friendly despite a six-month rifle season and a 2-1/2 month trapping season. As I write, 106 have been killed by projectile, three in traps, and one companion malamute mistaken and slain for a wolf. Just this morning we learned that a protected grizzly bear was caught in a wolf trap on the Rocky Mountain Front. Rifle season is only half over, and trapping season has just begun.
Let’s close with a final thought from the organizer of the predator derby, whose words bode ill for both wolves and their defenders:
“It will backfire on the enviros for putting down our derby,” he said. “The harder they try to put down our derby the more we will spread the word about the deadly disease these wolves are carrying” (source).
He’s right about one thing–we are dealing with a serious disease. But it’s not the wolves who are carrying it. It’s a human disease, and it ain’t pretty.
UPDATES 1/8/14: Renewed motion for Temporary Restraining Order; 1/6/14: Complaint; Motion for TRO; Memo
UPDATE, 12/30: Derby death results here.
UPDATE, 12/23: Lawsuit aims to stop Salmon, ID killing derby; organizer says it will go on regardless – click here.
UPDATE: NAPA Auto Parts, the only national sponsor of the Idaho for Wildlife slaughter-fest, has pulled out. Visit the Animal Blawg link below and check the comments for details.
- PBS Nature: “River of No Return” – 30-second preview here; entire episode here.
- Find the Wilderness Act text here. Find the nation’s wilderness areas here.
- Contact Krassel District Ranger Botello: email@example.com; copy your message to the Payette National Forest supervisor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment on this post at animal law blog Animal Blawg.