As imperiled wildlife, wolves were placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act to ensure their recovery in Idaho and across the Northern Rockies. An important part of that recovery is transferring management of wolves to the states. For that critical step to take place, Idaho and the other states must produce workable plans that ensure sound, science-based management and sustainable wolf populations.
Due to its expansive wilderness and national forests, Idaho is home to approximately 800 wolves, the largest core wolf population in the western U.S. However, Idaho's current state wolf management plan would allow for more than half of the state's wolves to be killed within a year of delisting. A dramatic decrease in wolf numbers would fragment the regional population and prevent wolves from returning to adjacent habitat in Washington and Oregon. Idaho's Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter also increased concerns regarding state wolf management when he declared that he wanted to obtain the first license to kill a wolf once they were under state control. While the political conflicts are largely polarized, a growing number of ranchers, wildlife conservationists, and state and federal biologists are working together to test and implement nonlethal methods to help prevent livestock losses to wolves.
Most state biologists believe that a drastic, sudden reduction in wolf numbers is not only unnecessary for conflict reduction, but also harmful to the recovery effort. While fair chase hunting may be part of a sound management plan, killing half the wolf population is not. We’d like to see such arbitrary and aggressive numbers removed from the plan in favor of biologically based management. We’d also like to see greater emphasis on and support for proven, non-lethal methods of reducing livestock conflicts, such as using guard dogs, range riders, and electrified, portable fencing.Read the Full 2008-2012 Plan