Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
Wolf Hunting to Commence in Idaho and Montana
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Wolf Hunting to Commence in Idaho and Montana
Groups call the hunt illegal
Contact: Wendy Keefover (303) 573-4898 x 1162
Denver, CO – Today, wolf huntingwill commence in Idaho, while Montana’s season opens in four days on September3. States will permit hunters tokill hundreds of wolves in 2011-2012, despite findings by biologists that thenorthern Rocky Mountain population has not yet recovered since the species was reintroduced16 years ago.
“Biologists do not believe that the northern Rocky Mountainwolf population has sufficient numbers to exchange genetic materials betweenpacks, nor can these populations endure heavy-handed hunting,” stated WendyKeefover, Carnivore Protection Director for WildEarth Guardians.
Biologists have shown that hunting wolves causes socialdisruption, which can cause packs to disband and lead to the starvation ofdependent young. Hunting wolves inthe northern Rockies could set back over two decades of taxpayer-funded recoverywork and even threaten the wolves with extirpation.
“Large carnivores did not evolve with heavy humanpersecution. We wiped them out before and so we must be vigilant thatdecisionmakers, who seek to appease a vocal minority, do not allow this toreoccur,” remarked Keefover. “Wolf hunting not only harms wolves, itharms all taxpayers and wildlife watchers – the majority of Americans,” shewarned.
In April, lead by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) andRepresentative Mike Simpson (R-ID), Congress enacted a rider attached to anunrelated budget bill that delisted gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, and portionsof Utah, Washington, and Oregon. The rider contravened a judicial order from2009 that retained Endangered Species Act protection for Rocky Mountain wolves.Three conservation organizations, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of theClearwater, and WildEarth Guardians, challenged the constitutionality of therider, arguing that it violated the Separation of Powers Doctrine in the U.S.Constitution. The groups lost in federal district court in Montana in August,but elevated the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hearthe appeal in October. The groups seek to preserve wolves, protect the public’sinterest in wolf conservation and long-term investment in the wolf recoveryprogram, and uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Themajority of Americans surveyed want to see wolves conserved. Moreover, wolf-watchingtourism by 94,000 visitors to the northern Rockies in 2005 generated $35.5million in one year. Bycomparison, in 2009, Montana reported that its total license revenue for wolf-hunting tags generated $325,916.
“Wolves are priceless. Their beauty and majesty is only exceededby their value as ecosystem engineers. Wolves make ecosystems robust,ecologically diverse, and even offer protection for other species in the faceof global warming,” remarked Keefover.
WolfHunting Seasons in Idaho and Montana
The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that Idaho has 705wolves (although Idaho Department of Fish and Game claims to have “more than1,000 wolves” but “will manage for at least 150 wolves”). Idaho did not set akill quota for wolves and will offer both hunting and trapping seasons in 2011-2012.The hunting season will commence on August 30, 2011, and will remain open forup to six months throughout much of the state. Residents pay just $11.50 for awolf-hunting tag, while non-residents pay $31.75.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that Montanahas 566 wolves (although Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks estimates the totalat 645). Montana has issued at least 1,100 hunting licenses and set a killquota of 220 wolves for 2011. The hunting season will commence on September 3,2011, with various archery and rifle seasons scheduled through the end of theyear. Residents pay $19 for a wolf tag, while non-residents pay $350.
Debunkingthe Myth of Wolf – Livestock Conflicts in the West
Idaho states one purpose forwolf hunting in that state is to reduce wolf conflicts with domestic livestock,but the number of cattle and sheep depredated by wolves as reported by ranchersin the northern Rockies is highly exaggerated. Twodifferent federal agencies track livestock losses attributed to wolves—the Fishand Wildlife Service (FWS) and USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service(NASS). FWS uses professional, verified, ground-tested reports from agents.NASS relies on unverified hearsay from the livestock industry. The differencebetween their annual counts is astounding. In Idaho, FWS verified 75 cattle were killed bywolves in 2010, while NASS reported 2,561 unverified cattle losses, whichrepresents a 3,415 percent difference. FWS also verified that 148 sheep werekilled by wolves in Idaho in 2010, compared to NASS’s unverified 900 losses,representing a 508 percent difference. View FWS’s verified livestock losses and NASS’sreported livestock losses.
Debunkingthe Elk Herd Decline Myth in the West
Ungulate hunters, concernedabout competing with wolves have decried the decline of elk herds. Research biologists have noted that theelk herd in and around Yellowstone National Park increased before the wolveswere reintroduced in 1995 and declined since, but they also believe that theelk herd remains too high for the habitat (carrying capacity) and the health ofthe elk herd itself.
WolfDensities in the Northern Rockies much Lower than Great Lakes Region
According to the CongressionalResearch Service (August 17, 2011), the 2010 wolf population in the WesternGreat Lakes was comprised of 4,169 wolves in 78,775 square miles, orapproximately 53 wolves per 1,000 sq. miles. In contrast, the Northern Rocky Mountains distinct populationsegment numbered 1,651 wolves in about 134,697 square miles, or a density of 12wolves per 1,000 sq. miles.
Generally, people in the GreatLakes region have shown far greater tolerance for wolves and ability to coexistwith this native carnivore.
View the NASS vestocklosses report at
View FWS’s livestock lossesdata at