In one of its first moves since retaking the reins of wolf management, Idaho officials called in the Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services -- the federal government's chief wildlife-killing agency -- to kill wolves in the central part of the state.
Using radio collars to track down wolf packs in the area, the airborne marksmen only managed to kill five wolves. The mission was quickly abandoned, described as both inefficient and expensive by the Wildlife Services agents themselves.
But Wildlife Services could continue gunning from the skies and trapping on the ground to artificially boost game populations in the region.
Take action now: Urge the USDA's Wildlife Services Agency to abandon aerial wolf-killing in Idaho by Wildlife Services.
- Deputy Administrator, USDA Wildlife Services
I urge you to immediately prohibit Wildlife Services' aerial wolf-killing program in central Idaho. The killing is unnecessary and a misdirected attempt to artificially boost elk populations.
On May 11th, 2011, Wildlife Services agents began their latest aerial gunning mission in north-central Idaho. It was quickly abandoned after killing five wolves -- and described by agents themselves as both inefficient and expensive.
The wolf-killing conflicts with Wildlife Services' mission to "create a balance that allows people and wildlife to coexist peacefully."
Wildlife Services should not be in the business of artificially boosting game populations to subsidize hunters in the region -- especially when the science does not support the claim that wolves are a major cause of elk declines in certain parts of the state.
As of late August 2010, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation estimated an elk population of more than 101,000 in Idaho -- while fewer than 900 wolves roam the wilds of the state.
In 23 of the 29 elk management zones in Idaho, elk populations are at or above population targets. Many of those areas currently experiencing declines contain few or no wolves. And some areas that do contain high wolf populations are even experiencing high elk populations.
In addition, the Clearwater National Forest -- one of the areas targeted by Wildlife Services' aerial gunning plan -- was experiencing steep declines in elk numbers by 1988, long before wolves returned to the area.
I don't want my tax dollars to be used to kill native wildlife under this misguided and archaic scheme. Wildlife Services should instead reduce wildlife conflicts and encourage peaceful coexistence with predators by using and promoting nonlethal tools and best management practices to preemptively reduce livestock loss.
Thank you for considering my comments on this important matter.
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