Conservationists Challenge Helicopter Intrusions in Premiere Wilderness Area

POCATELLO, Idaho – A coalition of conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, today filed a legal challenge to the decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to conduct approximately 120 helicopter landings in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness as part of a program to manipulate wildlife populations in the wilderness.

At issue is the Forest Service’s Jan. 6, 2016 decision to issue a permit allowing IDFG to land helicopters in the River of No Return through the end of March to capture and place radio telemetry collars on wild elk. The federal Wilderness Act prohibits the use of motorized vehicles including helicopters in wilderness areas.

The helicopter operations permitted by the Forest Service are part of IDFG’s broader program to inflate elk numbers above natural levels within the wilderness by eliminating wolf packs that prey on the elk. IDFG’s existing elk and predator management plans call for exterminating the majority of wolves in the heart of the River of No Return to provide more elk for hunters and commercial outfitters in an area that receives some of the lightest hunting use in the state.

“A wilderness is supposed to be a refuge from the noise and disturbance of motorized vehicles, not a helicopter landing zone,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso. “This motorized intrusion on one of our premiere wild areas is made all the worse by the fact that the Forest Service has allowed the state to turn natural wolf predation on elk into a reason to degrade the wilderness with helicopter landings.”

Earthjustice is representing Wilderness Watch, Friends of the Clearwater, and Western Watersheds Project in challenging the Forest Service’s decision. The groups seek a court order to prevent the helicopter intrusions on the River of No Return.

“This proposal violates everything that makes Wilderness unique,” said Wilderness Watch executive director George Nickas. “It’s an unprecedented intrusion with helicopters for the sole purpose to make wildlife populations in Wilderness conform to the desires of managers rather than accept and learn from the ebb and flow of nature.”

Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater added, “Wilderness, by law, is in contrast to areas that are heavily manipulated. This proposal to capture elk with net guns from helicopters is heavy-handed manipulation and denigrates the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.”

“The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness wasn’t ideal elk habitat until predators like wolves and grizzlies were eradicated,” said Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project’s Idaho Director. “Now, the IDFG wants to continue manipulating this area and turn one of the nation’s premier wilderness areas into a game farm for outfitters and their wealthy clients.”

At 2.4-million acres, the River of No Return is the largest contiguous unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System in the Lower 48 and hosts abundant wildlife including elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves, cougars, and wolverines. It is one of the few public-land wilderness areas of sufficient size to allow natural wildlife interactions to play out without human interference, and for this reason was one of the original wolf reintroduction sites in the Northern Rockies.

Read the complaint:Complaint

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Wilderness Watch is America’s only organization dedicated to defending and keeping wild the nation’s 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. Our work is guided by the visionary 1964 Wilderness Act.

Friends of the Clearwater is an Idaho-based nonprofit conservation organization that works to protect the wildness and biodiversity of the public wildlands, wildlife, and waters of Idaho’s Clearwater Basin.

Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit conservation group founded in 1993 with 1,500 members whose mission is to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives and litigation.


  1. rork Avatar

    “Indeed, if helicopter intrusions are permissible
    whenever a state agency asserts that a wildlife population has declined below the state’s recreation – driven objectives, it is difficult to comprehend when a request to use helicopters in the wilderness to advance wildlife management ever would be denied.”
    I’m usually inclined to let scientists break the rules about wilderness, but not this time. The Church is a cathedral where we observe, and even exploit very lightly if impact is minimal, but it’s not an elk farm. I hunt and fish, and that should mean I know enough that if a species is over-exploited, I want such activity to be curtailed or even stopped.
    It would have been nice to have links to what Idaho was saying, since reading the other side of the story first-hand is what every good skeptic wants to do. In the previous Jan 5 wolf-counting press release a paper in Science was mentioned, twice, without link or even naming it.

  2. snaildarter Avatar

    Once again the FS in complaisant with Idaho’s nonsense this makes a mockery of wilderness. It’s not an elk farm.

  3. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    manipulate wildlife populations.

    Ugh. I can’t stand a world totally manipulated by humans. It’s like the worst science fiction. We just can’t seem to stop meddling, or let wild areas remain mostly untrammeled. They will never be totally untrammeled. It’s a sickness.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Over time the ungulate population of the Frank Church has changed, and natural events will continue to effect change. That is the essence of wilderness. It is not trying to preserve some, perhaps wonderful, condition that was naturally unstable, although critics of the wilderness idea frequent try to portray it that way.

    In early to mid-20th century, deer were much more abundant than elk in what is now the Frank. Before that,bighorn sheep had a much larger presence.

    Idaho Fish and Game has, has been forced over time, to adopt a view that cares nothing at about the idea of wilderness. Their idea is to have more of an elk farm that has a lot of “rough” in its pastures.

    That is just one reason why I so dislike the cry of “states rights.” It almost always comes from some local elite that has interests and views that do not match those that are more national. Are we going to be country or a collection of pathetic provinces that call themself “sovereign states?”

  5. Louise Kane Avatar
    Louise Kane

    “That is just one reason why I so dislike the cry of “states rights.” It almost always comes from some local elite that has interests and views that do not match those that are more national. Are we going to be country or a collection of pathetic provinces that call themself “sovereign states?”

    well stated

  6. Jeff Sayre Avatar
    Jeff Sayre

    Ralph, States Rights matter. The 10th Amendment. Its a critical part of the stated States Rights in the U.S. Constitution that are enumerated for a reason. It expresses the principle of federalism, which strictly supports the entire plan of the original Constitution of the United States of America, by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.
    I believe the USFS, Nez Perce NF did a CE on wolf research long ago that was denied as a part of IDFG’s effort to understand what was going on with wolves when they took over management of the wolves from USFWS in the FC and GH. The acts are clear on mechanized and motorized. That’s where it gets sketchy. Are compound bows mechanical? Is a tripod mechanical. Is a pulley and come along mechanical.Some motorized was granted and secured as existing in a few of the acts like jet boats. What about chainsaws below the high water mark? The elk used ot be plentyful in the FC and Lolo areas when I moved here all year long. Predation has had a huge effect on their populations there and across that whole region. Trying to figure out whats happening there is critical for future heard growth. But, is landing a chopper there the way to do it?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Jeff Sayre,

      Sorry not address you comments on helicopters.

      Your interpretation of the 10th Amendment is not the way the courts have interpreted the Constitution. The “necessary and proper” clause of Article I, section 8 was interpreted broadly beginning in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819. Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the Clause was to be interpreted broadly, meaning Congress had broad powers (called called “implied powers” to carry out its delegated (or “enumerated”) powers of Article I, section 8.

      The Necessary and Proper Clause of Article I, section 8.
      “The Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

      The idea that the 10th Amendment is some kind device to overturn the “necessary and proper clause” of Article I, section 8 is a fantasy of the right. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court might eventually interpret it that way and serve to turn us into a total bunch of dirty, little, squabbling cow shit states, given the tendency of justices like Scalia to behave as extreme activists all the while he or they hypocritically pose as an original textualists.

      The latest case I am aware of regarding this necessary and property clause and the 10th Amendment is Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1985. Some say it reduced the 10th Amendment to a footnote, where it has been most of the history of this great country.

      Right wing reading of the Constitution, ignorant of constitutional law, with the idea that anyone is free to decide what the Constitution means with a quick glance it it, is one more factor that has led to “Bundyism,” where people profess their love for that document and then say it means anything they want it mean. Maybe the Bible can be interpreted that way, but a stable nation-state cannot.

      1. Jeff Sayre Avatar
        Jeff Sayre

        Wow, Ralph. I think the U.S. Constitution was make simple and clear and the “courts” interpretation’s have really messed the whole premise of it up. Thanks for the continued education.

  7. Mary Ann High Avatar
    Mary Ann High

    And in February we can look forward to the annual IDFG helicopter wolf slaughter based out of Lowell, ID. Focused in the ‘Lolo elk zone’, which includes part of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, North Fork Clearwater, Weitas Creek, and Kelly Creek, the objective is to kill 70 to 80 percent of wolves in this backcountry/wilderness zone. Elk farming at its finest. If we can’t have wolves in the backcountry and wilderness, where can they be? Of course we all know the answer. As with this and most other environmental and social issues, our voices are being drowned out by money and power as our democracy is sold to the highest bidder.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Hmmmm….how do we know wolves aren’t the target this time either? They seem to have no qualms about misleading or outright lying to the public for interests that come first.

      1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
        Maggie Frazier

        Actually, I read another email from another conservation org. that there were wolves collared at this same time! Handy for the killers to slaughter, right? And yes, this sure does sound like “elk farming”! Special interests anyone?

        1. Maggie Frazier Avatar
          Maggie Frazier

          Come to think of it -I believe it was Western Watersheds where I read that!

  8. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    back a few years ago when Judge Lodge allowed the landing of a helo by IDFG to tag a wolf, he mentioned something about a “slippery slope”;

    welcome to said slope

  9. Yvette Avatar

    Besides the intrusion of helicopters, is there a reason to think this study will have significantly different results from the study on the disappearing elk in the East and West Bitterroot? It could, it’s a different place, but shouldn’t the predators be left alone in the wilderness areas?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Absolutely, predators should be left alone in a wilderness area. The Wilderness Act allows control of predators only a case by case basis.

      While some of the animals in a wilderness area might be classified by state law as “game,” I think all native wilderness animal populations should be allowed to reach natural levels.

      1. WM Avatar


        ++ The Wilderness Act allows control of predators only a case by case basis. ++

        I was not aware of that. Where does the Act say this?

        And how do you reconcile the language in the Act and in multiple statutes creating specific designated Wilderness that contain these words (including and specifically the Frank Church statutes – 3 separate designated areas if I recall correctly each with this kind of wording):

        Section 4.(d)(8) states that, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the jurisdiction or responsibilities of … States with respect to wildlife and fish …”

        Furthermore, the Congressional Research Service staff tried to address some o this in its 2014 “Wilderness Issues for the 113th Congress.” The authors pointed out a number of very complex issues about existing uses in Wilderness and conflicts with other statutes as Congress looks to designate more and more new Wilderness and while agencies continue to administer designated wilderness with consistency.

        I think these issues are far from clear under the Act and provide considerable food for thoughtful and maybe even contentious debate.

        To put this into context in the present issue collaring elk in the FC with helicopters, it seems that as designated wilderness acreage expands it puts states in an ever diminishing role and the Forest Service and BLM in a greater role in telling states what they can and can’t do in wildlife management in wilderness and under the seemingly more microscopic NEPA process with judges now second guessing agency day to day management decisions. If the FS or NPS can use helicopters all summer long to remove shit bins for Wilderness users, how is it such a big deal for a state wildlife agency to use them to collar elk in low use winter months for awhile?

        I see a huge and growing area of conflict here.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan


          I was wrong about the Wilderness Act. The language is in the regulations, which probably differ between the FS, NPS, and BLM.

          The Forest Service Manual reads

          “2323.33c – Predator Control
          Predacious mammals and birds play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems. Consider the benefits of a predator species in the ecosystem before approving control actions. The Regional Forester may approve predator control programs on a case-by-case basis where control is necessary to protect federally listed threatened or endangered species, to protect public health and safety, or to prevent serious losses of domestic livestock. Focus control methods on offending individuals and under conditions that ensure minimum disturbance to the wilderness resource and visitors. Poison baits or cyanide guns are not acceptable. Poison bait collars may be approved.
          The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or approved State agencies shall carry out control programs. The Forest Service is responsible for determining the need for control, the methods to be used, and approving all proposed predator damage control programs in wilderness (FSM 2650).
          Only approve control projects when strong evidence exists that removing the offending individual(s) will not diminish the wilderness values of the area.”

          This is hardly a total ban on predator control, but it mostly relates to the few (and unfortunate!) grazing allotments inside designated Wilderness Areas.

          Grazing in Wilderness is clearly allowed, one of the sorry compromises that had to be made to create a Wilderness system.

          Things like this is why I have worked with the Western Watersheds Project from nearly its inception. If the subsidies are removed from public land grazing, most of these problems will solve themselves. In the meantime, it is like trench warfare, in my opinion.

          I will perhaps have the energy to comment on the rest of your comment later.

          Thank you for your many posts to The Wildlife News over the years.

          1. WM Avatar

            Thanks Ralph. I appreciate the privilege of commenting here, even though I go against the grain some times. It is always good to hear all sides of a story.

            I will take this opportunity to again say, designated wilderness is “what Congress says it is,” though some would tend to oppose this view.

            There are lots of instances in designated wilderness where certain uses inconsistent with “wilderness values” have been allowed specifically by statute for those individually designated wildernesses (parts of the Frank Church are a prime example where aircraft are allowed access to some locations), or in other instances, as a matter of administrative policy by either the FS or NPS.


            There are a couple specific wildernesses in the West administered by the FS where helicopter use for sanitary purposes is in the statutes. You might also like to know designated wilderness within a couple national parks also allow it. The ones of which I have personal knowledge are Mt. Rainier and Olympic NP. Helicopters are also regularly used for things like servicing radio repeater stations, hauling in/out high country ranger summer guard stations, and effectuating rescues of injured users (Mount Hood is an example of that if you recall a couple rescues gone bad a few years back).

            I also personally recall helicopter use in the Bob Marshall Wilderness for purposes of stocking fish many years ago, and maybe even doing some kills of non-native species to lakes that were once planted and now they want the planted fish out (so they dumped rotenone, and/or crews with water craft in high lakes not easily accessed by trail). I also think this is still in some future state fisheries management plans.

            And, while I think removing shit bins with a helicopter preserves wilderness from human over-use, the machine still makes the same noise whether used for this purpose or to collar elk, especially if done in a low use period of the year.

            And, long ago, if I remember correctly, when the North Cascades Wilderness and National Park were created the proposed master plan had an alternative which used developed enclaves that would have been accessed … helicopter.

            And this really ought to smoke your bacon. US Army wants to use multiple sites within Alpine Lakes Wilderness for a high altitude helicopter training site; the proposal was just 6 months ago! Look at the map in the article below.


            1. Ida Lupines Avatar
              Ida Lupines

              And this really ought to smoke your bacon. US Army wants to use multiple sites within Alpine Lakes Wilderness for a high altitude helicopter training site; the proposal was just 6 months ago!

              Noooooooooooo…..please no.

            2. WM Avatar

              Sorry -I misread the article. The US Army wants to use 1 (not multiple) sites in the Alpine Wilderness for high altitude helicopter training. But it wants to use it all the time – all times of the year and all hours of the day (night). The other unanswered question is where they were/are currently doing the high altitude training in Colorado, in national forests, no doubt but whether any is in designated Wilderness is unknown.

              And here is a little current helicopter activity for fisheries in the Bob Marshall:


              Relatively current proposal for an AZ national forest to allow helicopters for bighorn sheep work by AZ Fish and Wildlife:


              ++FOREST SERVICE VIEW

              Even though helicopter flights are banned over wilderness areas, the Forest Service is considering the Game and Fish proposal for Pusch Ridge [Wilderness] because the law allows for exceptions, a Coronado spokeswoman said.

              “Congress acknowledged that there are times when exceptions are allowed to meet the minimum required administration of wilderness areas,” said Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for the Forest Service.”++

              1. Ida Lupines Avatar
                Ida Lupines

                It just shows how little we value our wild places. I am so sick of wars, training armies for wars, and destruction. All hours of the say and night is outrageous. NO, and I hope this proposal gets tossed into the dustbin.

        2. rork Avatar

          Removing human shit helps preserve the wilderness aspects, increasing elk, not so much.
          I’m not saying the laws are clear.

        3. Barb Rupers Avatar
          Barb Rupers

          Where does the FS use helicopters to remove “shit bins” for Wilderness users?

          1. Scott MacButch Avatar
            Scott MacButch

            I was wondering that myself. All human waste on any of the wild and scenic rivers is carried out by the users floating the rivers. This has been going on for well over 20 years. I know the NPS slings out the waste from the lower saddle on the Grand but that is in a high alpine environment.

  10. Rob Bullis Avatar
    Rob Bullis

    The wilderness should not be treated as a elk pasture. Left alone the wolves and elk will come a balance just like they did for the millennia before the Europeans decided to rule the place. Will the numbers be different than they were 50 years ago. Yes, and it would be for the better of the mountain. The outfitter industry may not like it but the wilderness was never designed or intended to be a elk and deer factory.

    1. rork Avatar

      I agree about the mountain, but we did strike compromises when we set aside these places, and though I know what I wish they were, they aren’t always what I’d wish, and they take a battalion of lawyers and courts to determine.
      The “balance” you imagine might be a bit like a roller-coaster, and it’s sometimes ghastly. As we say “that’s life”. In land near me (think deer), I often want more balance, but in wilderness I want the control experiment.

  11. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    I understand that Fish and Game got in quick, and has carried out the radio collaring. At least, it didn’t last for long.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “The helicopter operations permitted by the Forest Service are part of IDFG’s broader program to inflate elk numbers above natural levels within the wilderness by eliminating wolf packs that prey on the elk.

      IDFG’s existing elk and predator management plans call for exterminating the majority of wolves in the heart of the River of No Return to provide more elk for hunters and commercial outfitters in an area that receives some of the lightest hunting use in the state”

      Begs the question though, collaring elk because they are worried about depredations by predators or collaring elk because there is a real concern about the spread of brucellosis? Saw my first collared elk in southwest Montana, just about 3 years ago.

      IMHO, none of this crap (expense to taxpayers) would be going on if not for hunting & rancher interests.

      1. Kathleen Avatar

        “IMHO, none of this crap (expense to taxpayers) would be going on if not for hunting & rancher interests.”

        That’s probably true, but the bottom line is, it’s the job of the federal agencies to manage according to the Wilderness Act, and they are failing at that. By no stretch of the imagination is state manipulation of predator/prey populations necessary for the preservation of naturalness and Wilderness character. The agencies are supposed to follow a minimum requirements guide–first asking if the action is “necessary” for managing Wilderness according to the Act, and secondly, is it the “minimum tool” for achieving the goal. The second question is moot when the answer to the first question is ‘no.’

        1. Ida Lupines Avatar
          Ida Lupines

          +1 Kathleen.

    1. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      wink, wink

      1. skyrim Avatar

        …nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more……Eric Idle (Monty Python)

    2. Kathleen Avatar

      “Oops, our bad, we mistakenly collared the wrong animal in violation of the Wilderness Act while we collaring the *right* animal in violation of the Wilderness Act…but no harm, no foul, right?”

      Statement from Salmon – Challis Forest Supervisor Chuck Mark on Middle Fork Elk Zone Monitoring Project

      Reach the supervisor here: Salmon-Challis National Forest Supervisor’s Office
      1206 S. Challis Street
      Salmon, ID 83467 (208) 756-5100
      Online feedback form:

      1. WM Avatar


        You might consider that the collaring of the wrong animals may be a violation of the special use permit, and nothing more.

        There has been no legal finding that it is a violation of the Wilderness Act.

        And, do consider the following language of the Wilderness Act:

        The Wilderness Act explicitly directed that wilderness designations had no effect on state jurisdiction or responsibilities over fish and wildlife; Section 4(d)(8) states that “nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the jurisdiction or responsibilities of the several States with respect to wildlife and fish in the national forests.”

        Comparable language, sometimes only referring to state jurisdiction (not responsibilities), has been included in over 30 wilderness designation statutes. The Frank Church legislation has the full language, if I recall correctly. This helicopter use was performed during a low use period of the year for a very limited amount of time. So, truly what are the significance of the impacts, especially in a designated wilderness into which airplanes can be landed year round?

        And, it will be interesting to see how Judge Winmill (a Clinton appointee) views the “mistake.” One might query whether it really makes a difference if it is elk, wolves or sasquatches being collared for research purposes (within the rights and responsibilities of states under the law). Pissing off a federal judge might be another matter. But, what’s he gonna do, spank them?

        1. WM Avatar

          You also might want to consider this document:

          (as amended June, 2006)

          Sorry, I don’t have a link to it, but it is easy to find in a Google search. It seems to allow use of helicopters for surveys in Wilderness. It is a joint document prepared by FS, BLM and state wildlife agencies, guiding their work.

          So, if Judge Winmill wants to jump into the middle of this, in a truly obstructive way, he might expect some opposition on appeal if and when the FS, BLM and the states bring in the A list legal teams.

        2. George Vincent Avatar
          George Vincent

          WM — you have made a common mistake in reading section 4(d)(8) (now 4(d)(7) with the deletion of the old 4(d)(5)). The Wilderness Act says that law doesn’t change the responsibility, not that the state has the responsibility. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision (Kleppe v. New Mexico), declared that when state objectives do not conform to federal law, the state “must recede.” The Wilderness Act (Section 4(c)) states the only way the landing of aircraft can be allowed for management actions is if it is the minimum necessary for WILDERNESS management.

          The 2006 document you refer to says basically the same thing. (How could it say anything else — it can’t violate the law, though it comes perilously close at times.)

          The question is, has the FS demonstrated that this action is necessary to manage the WILDERNESS as WILDERNESS? Of course not, as will be shown in court. Unless, since the FS rushed approval and Idaho rushed implementation, the judge decides the damage is done and the question moot. Since the District Court in 2010 over a similar case said such actions would likely not be approved in the future, it will be interesting to see what sanctions, if any, are levied against the FS. Since Idaho has no legal jurisdiction here, they will most likely get off simply faking embarrassment.

          1. WM Avatar

            And here I thought when the national forest system was created state wildlife agencies had jurisdiction and responsibilities for wildlife management BEFORE the Wilderness Act was passed. Hence the language reserving these rights.

            I don’t think I made a mistake regarding the conflicting language, though it might take awhile for that to play out after full exhaustion of legal review, if I have.

            I am very much aware of the Kleppe decision – and of course that case came about because the federal government wasn’t exercising ITS responsibilities toward wild horses and burros once it decided to protect them by statute (still a huge issue by the way and the federal government continues to screw that up).

            If and when the federal government says it wants to be the day to day manager of wildlife within designated wilderness, say wolves, elk or sasquatches(absent a threatened or endangered species designation) maybe there is something to discuss.

            The tension is between the “wilderness character” language and the reserving language to states, and it would appear the FS and BLM have a cooperative federalism scheme worked out here. Heck helicopters have been used in many designated wilderness areas for over 40 years for a whole variety of uses – but again the issue of “minimum necessary” is present and federal agencies tend to get overturned reluctantly when making such administrative decisions using a pretty liberal legal standard of review. So, is Judge Winmill willing to insert himself in place of the decision of the agency in this instance, or to come down on IDFG for their error? I guess we will see.

    3. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      maybe someone can expound on this a bit but it seems to me that in order to tag a potentially dangerous animal, the first thing is to dart it with a tranquilizer.

      That being the case, a couple questions come up; 1: is the drug for an elk safe for other animals and 2: is the dose not calculated by weight so even if it was a common drug the dosage would be more likely fatal due to the weight difference?
      just wonderin

      1. TC Avatar

        They generally need different collars for elk and wolves, and while both can be captured by netgunning, to handle wolves you need drugs (not necessarily so for elk, depending on what you need to accomplish). The drugs commonly used to immobilize wolves are not the drugs you would use on elk. The different collars and different drugs are expensive, take time to order/acquire, and would need to be in hand. That takes planning and suggests forethought. Plus – I have never, ever, heard of a capture team catching a species that was not explicitly requested in necessary permits and contracts. Draw your own conclusions.

          1. Kathleen Avatar

            (Jeff E) HA!
            “It’s wabbit–no make that wuff–season, and I’m hunting wuffs, so be vewy, vewy quiet!”

        1. rork Avatar

          “and suggests forethought”. Your mastery of understatement is like my boss’s. He’s British. The target is sometimes dazed, and unaware of their legs having been shot clean off.
          PS: This situation so ludicrous that it took me 10 minutes to realize it wasn’t satire.

  12. timz Avatar

    It was just on the local news, they went in with permission to collar elk and collared a bunch of wolves. F&G is saying “oops”. Were sorry we’ll amend our policies. This is absolute Bulls^$% and IF&G needs to be held accountable.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      If it wasn’t so physically hard on the wolves, they should go in there and remove the collars from them. But these people know who their master is, and it isn’t the wildlife. There have been a couple of dishonest moves by this department, like going in there and killing a bunch of wolves without telling anyone, purely per the state’s order, I would bet.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        that should read ‘they should be made to go back in there and remove the collars from the wolves’. Wish I was the govnah.

    1. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      And from the same source Idaho representative cited for posession of spike elk out of season.

  13. timz Avatar

    “As the deputy in charge of Fish and Game field operations, I accept full responsibility for this,” said Ed Schriever, deputy director. ”

    Then you should be fired tomorrow and held in contempt.

    1. rork Avatar

      It sounds more like a criminal conspiracy – I wonder what legal recourse is available.

      1. tim zaspel Avatar
        tim zaspel

        What are the chances this was a “miscommunication”? Rork is right F&G should be charged. And Ida is right they should be forced to go back in and remove the collars.

      2. WM Avatar

        Violation of terms of a special use authorization/permit:

        36 CFR 261 [current as of 01/12/16]

        §261.1a Special use authorizations, contracts and operating plans.

        The Chief, each Regional Forester each Forest Supervisor, and each District Ranger or equivalent officer may issue special-use authorizations, award contracts, or approve operating plans authorizing the occupancy or use of a road, trail, area, river, lake, or other part of the National Forest System in accordance with authority which is delegated elsewhere in this chapter or in the Forest Service Manual. These Forest Officers may permit in the authorizing document or approved plan an act or omission that would otherwise be a violation of a subpart A or subpart C regulation or a subpart B order. In authorizing such uses, the Forest Officer may place such conditions on the authorization as that officer considers necessary for the protection or administration of the National Forest System, or for the promotion of public health, safety, or welfare.

        §261.1b Penalty.

        Any violation of the prohibitions of this part (261) shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both pursuant to title 16 U.S.C., section 551, unless otherwise provided.


        How many violations under various provisions?

        Or maybe IDFG just asks for forgiveness and after the fact USFS modifies the special use authorization with language to comply ….. “collar elk ….AND COLLAR WOLVES (Jan.6-9)….” No violation.

        Now back to Judge Winmill and the pending suit and the request for injunction and declaratory relief. Doesn’t look like there is a Temporary Order in place to stop things yet while it gets sorted out in court – that’s a full week after the suit was filed. Did IDFG collar even more elk this week, since the unauthorized collaring of wolves last week?

        1. rork Avatar

          Thanks. I can hardly say how grateful I am to have lawyers knowledgeable about such things providing such good services – nothing remotely like you (and some others here) where I live, at least in web-space. And you do this repeatedly. We’ve had kerfuffles about deer killing in Candyland (Ann Arbor) lately, and not a single person comments intelligently about what the law might really say.

  14. Kathleen Avatar

    Perhaps this point has been made and I missed it in the comments above:
    “We believe the Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game colluded in setting this up so it couldn’t be stopped,” Nickas said. “They waited to sign the decision until the helicopters were fired up and ready to go.”