The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced it is opening a 24-hour hotline for questions about gray wolf management in Idaho. Don’t worry, the agency’s announcement said, we’re on the job.
Why is this necessary?
Well, earlier this week, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the state of Idaho would no longer manage wolves as species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
He had been hoping to keep a public wolf hunt in place, despite the re-listing of the gray wolf as an endangered species earlier this year. But when wolf-hunt talks fell through, he decided to keep Idaho hunters from subsidizing the federal protection program.
“We’re no longer going to spend any sportsmen’s dollars in Idaho to enforce the Endangered Species Act as it relates to the experimental project of wolves,” he said.
That means state fish and game managers won’t monitor for wolves, investigate illegal wolf killings, punish wolf poachers, or participate in a livestock depredation program. Beyond that, Otter said, he is going to submit a request to kill some wolves to assert the state’s rights to protect its fish and wildlife.
Hence, Robyn Thorson, regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region, released this statement today:
“We learned on October 18 that Governor Otter terminated state management of wolves in Idaho. We want to assure the public that the Fish and Wildlife Service will investigate all wolf depredation incidents and take
appropriate action. When livestock depredation is reported, we will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division as it investigates depredation by
problem wolves, and we will authorize wolf control as situations dictate.”
All this is germane to Oregon, as gray wolves are moving across the eastern range and putting livestock at risk of predation. This month, one of few adult wolves in Oregon was shot illegally. That’s a federal offense that carries a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison under Endangered Species Act rules.
The toll-free line at 877-661-1908 will serve as a clearinghouse call center to help the public report wolf mortality and find answers to other wolf management questions as the transition from state to
federal management occurs in Idaho. A similar service was previously provided by
the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.