Defenders statement on stakeholders.
Defenders of Wildlife sent out the news release below November 26, 2007 because Idaho and Fish and Game was saying that they were part of the “stakeholders” and strongly implying that they, therefore, had actually helped build the wolf population plan and agreed with it. I imagine that Fish and Game did this because it was politically helpful to suggest that only a handful of conservation groups opposed what is actually a very unbalanced plan. In fact, I think all do.
To: Northern Rockies editorial page editors and writers
Fr: Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, (208)424-9385
Re: Idaho’s wolf harvest plan will decimate wolf population
Datet: November 26, 2007
On Thursday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will hold its first public open house on a just-released wolf harvest plan intended to go into effect once wolves in the Northern Rockies are removed from the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this plan is more about extermination than management.
The plan’s primary goal is to reduce Idaho’s wolf population and would allow hundreds of the wolves currently in the state to be killed. This goal was not accepted by all of the stakeholder groups.
While Idaho Fish and Game claims the plan was accepted by all stakeholders, that is simply not true. Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League were two of the stakeholder groups that openly disagreed with the state’s management direction.
According to the text of the plan, “Based on stakeholder input, the most important objective within the harvest plan should be conflict resolution, whereas actual population levels will be of secondary importance as long as populations are maintained above minimum levels.”
Yet the plan includes no meaningful tools to address conflict resolution. On the contrary, hunting wolves can actually create more conflicts if packs are broken apart and young or injured wolves unable to hunt wild prey seek out livestock as a means for survival. Without addressing these problems and ensuring that proactive, nonlethal tools are in place to ensure cooperation, the state cannot adequately resolve conflicts.
Instead of incorporating preventative measures into the plan, Idaho seems determined to slash the wolf population to the absolute minimum number specified in the current wolf recovery plan for removing wolves from the endangered species list, a number which itself is likely inadequate to ensure the long-term viability of wolves in the northern Rockies.
Defenders and the Idaho Conservation League repeatedly stressed our concern that wolves should be allowed to thrive like bears and mountain lions do in Idaho. Today, there are more than 20,000 black bears and 3,000 mountain lions. Limiting wolves to only 15 breeding pairs would be placing an unjustified and artificial limitation on the population and risking the future of wolves in the state.
Idaho and other states with similar plans are poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. States such as Michigan and Minnesota currently enjoy the freedom to manage several thousand wolves within their region, without any outside intervention from the federal government. We too can have that freedom, but not until state agencies prove that they are up to the task of managing our wolf populations as a means to sustain the progress of wolf recovery – not suppress their existence.
Clearly, Idaho is not committed to the sustainable management of wolves. It would be irresponsible for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to delist wolves as long as Idaho’s plan is aimed not at managing wolves but at exterminating them.
For more information, please contact Suzanne Stone at email@example.com or (208)424-9385.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
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