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Will 330 NRM Wolves Be Spared? - by Chris Kirby


wolf pups with nanny picture

We are days away from the first authorized public hunts of gray wolves in the lower 48 United States since being nearly exterminated six decades earlier by hunting, trapping and poisoning.  Calendars and wolflovers' hearts will be scored with conservation history as wolf hunting is officially scheduled to begin September 1 in Idaho; the core of the NRM wolf population.  845 wolves, less than four months off of the endangered species list, along with pups of the year barely 4 months old will be facing an expected 70,000 hunters set out to kill 255 wolves.  The hunt's seven month season would allow the killing of the breeding alpha male and female wolves.

No other endangered species has ever been delisted at such a low population level and then immediately hunted to even lower sustainable levels.

On August 31, the eve of this significant threat, while licenses and bullets are aimed and ready in Idaho and Montana begins selling their wolf tags to hunt 75 wolves September 15, an emergency injunction to halt the hunts is scheduled to be heard before a federal judge.

wolfhunt.jpg"...My heart breaks for the Wolves in just the fact that they have not been legally hunted in so long that those first shots will come as such a surprise.  Families will be torn apart.   Pups and yearlings will be left on their own to fend for themselves.  Pain, agony and suffering even in the survivors of this hunt will be put upon a species just taken off the ESL unless this is stopped NOW." ~ says Maria Ferguson, Founder of Wolf Howl Animal Preserve.

Wolf advocates have already begun standing up in protest.  Members of the North Idaho Wolf Alliance turned out in Coeur d'Alene at the Idaho Fish and Game office August 28 to demonstrate against the state's first regulated wolf hunt.

The second public demonstration will take place from 11AM - 1PM on August 31 at the County Courthouse on So. First Ave. & Lake St.  A wolf education program for families and children will be sponsored at the same time at the Sandpoint Community Hall across from the courthouse.

The two major issues circling wolves is livestock depredation and elk devastation.  The following pro-wolf facts, however, are constant and irrefutable.  Wolves are responsible for less than 1 percent of livestock depredation.  In 2008, feral dogs killed more than four times as many sheep in Idaho than wolves did.  In reality, wolf-livestock depredation pales in comparison to the number of livestock killed by weather.  One storm just killed 1,759 calves in Montana (compared with 77 confirmed wolf kills in the state for all of 2008) and 501 sheep (compared with 111 confirmed wolf kills in the state for all of 2008).

In regards to wolf packs negatively impacting elk, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's own data shows elk herds have, on average, increased 44% in the last 25 years.  State-by-state breakdown of elk population numbers from 1984 to 2009.

Before us lies serious reason for continued efforts of wolf advocacy.  To not give into despair or let the incessant legal drama tire us.  To not leave tiny howls left behind nor any that may vanish without the support of our voices.

We cannot let the pack reduced to one member stand alone without anyone listening to their grieving howl, we cannot forget those wolves that lost their lives already for the nerve of trying to survive nor those who were killed before them for any reason, any time, any place, by any method.  For all wolves, their stories will stay alive.

The world is watching.  The outcome is not predictable and it is most reasonable to question these wolves' survival.  Wolves were essentially eradicated in Idaho in 1938, the year the Idaho Fish and Game came into existence.  It is their first sanctioned wolf hunt.  It could become the "model" for management of reintroduced wolves, so it is extremely urgent that this model comes with all the protections these wolves deserve and all the objections wolf advocates observe.  Other States and countries are reaching for it already.  Wolves have shown their ability to exert ecological benefits and positive impacts on trophic structure of ecosystems.  However, while most realize the wolf's importance, "using the wolf" seems to come easy but managing the wolf is always left unclear.

In a surprising announcement August 28 from Idaho, Mr. Nadeau, the Idaho Fish and Game Department's carnivore manager, is taking over as wildlife manager for the southwest region for Jon Rachael and Mr. Rachael will be taking over Mr. Nadeau's role.

I am not a scientist, I do not hold a degree of any kind, there is a lot I do not know about wolves but I do know is it is wrong to hunt four month old wolf pups, to sport kill an endangered species fresh off the list, or to categorize the wolf a game animal when it is not hunted for food.  I don't know of a science in the universe that can justify it.

All our studies show that we are still students. It seems to me that if a science is true and accurate, there can't be two sides.  Our real lessons come from the wolves themselves and from those who care for wolves.  Please feel free to join us in the Wolf Howl Animal Preserve Forum for details, questions and/or discussion.

I'd like to end my thoughts with the thoughts from an 11-year-old, "you know why hunting is not a sport? .... Because half of the participants don't know they are playing a game."

female gray wolf picture

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