“I want to personally thank all of you wolf loving fools. You’ve been very good for business over on the LOBO WATCH Facebook page. Over the past week, your ignorant remarks about wolves have added more than 400 new WOLF CONTROL followers ... and I only had to ban 150 or so wolfaboos. You people are your own worst enemies ... please, please keep it up.”
Last January, Boise Weekly traveled to the Lemhi County city of Salmon to talk to locals about wolves in Idaho and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's controversial move to hire a Salmon-based hunter to actively hunt wolves in the Frank Church wilderness.
The hunter ended up killing nine wolves, but a coalition of wildlife advocates ended up suing Idaho and U.S. officials over the kills. A federal judge refused a request for a temporary restraining order, and the case is still set to be heard before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
But on Monday, Idaho Fish and Game announced that it would suspend its plan to use the hunter this coming season, and keep it on the back burner at least until November 2015.
The announcement came in a filing to the 9th Circuit.
In this morning's edition of Boise Weekly, we talk with David Langhorst, the man who will take over the reins of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation next week. In the 1990s, Langhorst was executive director of the Wolf Education and Research Center and was at the forefront of the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho:
"There are people who have seized on the fact that I was involved in wolf recovery, but I also co-sponsored a bill to reinstitute Idaho's control and management of wolves," he said. "I've tried to be in the reasonable middle."
The names of members of a wolf regulation panel charged with regulating wolf populations and tracking predation have been released.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced July 7 that the Wolf Depredation Control Board's members include co-chairs Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore and Department of Agriculture Celia Gould. The board will also include former Idaho Cattle Association president and rancher Richard Savage, representing the livestock industry; Leadership Idaho Agriculture-member Carl Rey of Meridian representing the general public; and former Idaho Fish and Game Commission member Tony McDermott representing sportsmen.
The board was created at Otter's request by the Idaho Legislature with $400,000 from the general fund to manage wolves when they come into conflict with livestock and wildlife populations. The move was criticized by local and national groups, who dubbed the task force a "wolf-kill panel."
According to a press release, the board will not perform its duties at the expense of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's wolf management responsibilities, which include a listing of wolves as a big-game species for hunting and trapping.
There has been little, if any compromise, to date in Idaho's raging debate over wolves—opponents are quick to point to more than 4,000 sheep and nearly 2,000 cattle reportedly killed by wolves in the past quarter century while proponents want to remind us that more than 2,000 wolves have been killed by humans in the same period of time.
But in a rare opportunity for all sides to sit elbow-to-elbow, The Wood River Wolf Project will be hosting a collaborative effort this coming week, bringing together wildlife advocates, ranchers, and representatives from federal, state and local agencies. In particular, Suzanne Stone, co-founder of the Wood River Wolf Project, said she's hoping that the two sides will be able to find new, nonlethal techniques for keeping wolves away from livestock in the Wood River Valley.
"One of the best parts of the project is that people are able to set aside their differences," Stone told Boise Weekly. "It's a win-win for both sides."
The two-day workshop will begin with indoor meetings, but Tuesday will feature outdoor field tours.
Stone said she believed the similarities outweigh differences among the opposing sides.
“People across the board love the land, the wildlife and their Idaho heritage,” she said. “We set the differences outside the door. I wish the state would do that!”
Since its inception, Stone says the Wood River Wolf Project has helped to protect up to 27,000 sheep in a 1,000-square-mile project area in and around the Sawtooth National Forest. In the last six years alone, she said that fewer than 30 sheep had been lost.
“We’ve got one of the worst case scenarios in terms of risk, yet one of the lowest lost rates of livestock to wolves statewide," said Stone.
The Idaho Legislature recently appropriated $400,000 annually, just to kill wolves, but Stone insists that it's an inefficient use of money, and only a short-term fix.
"You have this ongoing spiral of conflict and we’ve seen that go on for 20 years now in Idaho,” she said.
Citizens are welcome to participate in some of the workshops over the next couple of days, but must ask for access from Charlotte Conley at email@example.com. This year's event is the fourth annual workshop and training.
Wildlife officials have tracked a 2-year-old male gray wolf from its home in northeast Oregon, through Idaho and into Montana's Big Hole Valley. But that tracking can end now—the GPS collar-wearing wolf known as OR-18 was killed on the last day of May in Montana's Sapphire Mountains.
This morning's Missoulian reports that the wolf was probably in search of a new home and mate after being captured and fitted with a collar by Oregon Fish and Wildlife biologists in March 2013.
"It hadn't been in the Bitterroot even a week and a half," Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Liz Bradley told the Missoulian.
But on May 31, the wolf was illegally shot from a road in the Burnt Fork area of the Bitterroot Valley, east of Stevensville, Mont.
Meanwhile, the Wolves of the Rockies group has increased a reward from $1,000 to $3,500 for information leading to a conviction in the case of the illegal wolf killing. Tipsters can remain anonymous when they call 1-800-847-6668.