Judge refuses to halt wolf trapping in Idaho wilderness

SALMON, Idaho Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:08pm EST

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SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A district judge on Friday denied a request from conservationists to block Idaho's efforts to trap and kill two wolf packs targeted for eradication in a federally protected wilderness area for preying on elk prized by hunters.

The state Department of Fish and Game last month hired a trapper to eliminate the pair of wolf packs from the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho, where wolves were imported from Canada in the mid-1990s in a bid to reintroduce the species to the Northern Rockies.

The trapping program has become the latest flashpoint in a long-running controversy over wolf management in the region. State officials have not specified how many wolves are believed to make up the packs in question but said nine animals have been killed so far.

Gray wolves were placed under safeguards of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1974, after being hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction decades earlier throughout the continental United States.

But wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming lost their protected status in recent years as their numbers rebounded and states pushed to renew hunting and trapping rights, arguing that the predators had become too big a threat to livestock and to big-game animals such as elk.

Environmental groups have claimed, however, that Idaho went too far by going after wolves in a federally designated wilderness, which by definition has been aside by the government to preserve its natural character.

Defenders of Wildlife and other groups filed a lawsuit earlier this month in District Court in Boise alleging that an "extermination program" in the wilderness near Salmon violated federal preservation rules and required special environmental and public reviews. They asked a judge to halt the eradication of the two packs until the overall case was adjudicated.

District Judge Edward Lodge sided with Idaho and the Forest Service in finding that no reviews were necessary since federal land managers had yet to determine if eliminating wolf packs in the 2.4 million-acre Frank Church conflicts with preservation requirements spelled out in the federal Wilderness Act.

"No final agency action has been taken in regards to the Wilderness Act," Lodge wrote in Friday's ruling.

Idaho Fish and Game and Forest Service officials did not immediately respond on Friday to requests for comment.

Conservationists said they would immediately appeal Lodge's decision.

"We don't believe that killing wolves to artificially increase elk herds for hunters is a legitimate way to manage a wilderness, which is not an elk game farm," said Jonathan Proctor of Defenders of Wildlife.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Steve Gorman and Richard Chang)

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Comments (5)
WhyMeLord wrote:
The idiotic hunters are going to kill the elk; let the wolves do it.
The hunters could sleep in, stay warm, gather up the remains, and pretend they got the rack which is all they want anyhow. Hunters as a group suffer from a testosterone deficiency and use guns to prove their manhood, which sounds pretty silly, but it works for them OK.
To the point, wolves know instinctively what these idiots must learn to do, but never do quite as well as well as their four-legged pals.
Wolves were here first (Indians too), and we should leave them alone.

Jan 17, 2014 11:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
WhyMeLord wrote:
Hopefully, this judge will stumble across a wolf trap and gain some empathy for the innocent target of these brutal and inhumane devices.
This isn’t the wild-wild west any more; we don’t need to kill things.
Go bow hunting if you must, and give your prey an even chance to win.
If you want to be a man, try opening a door for a woman, or taking your kid to the zoo. Real men don’t need to kill things any more.

Jan 17, 2014 11:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Well as far as the wolf reintroduction,it was just too many too fast,They were there just not visiable from the road in Yellowstone,aka the big natural zoo…as far as the elk hunting goes,many families rely on the elk hunt for food on the table,the are not horn hunter’s,they put in for cow calf permit’s for the meat..It is a tradition in the Rocky’s to hunt and it requires hunter’s to keep the ecosystem in balance,there is not enough range with people moving in and taking up the environment for them..If you don’t want to invade on the wolves territory,go back where you came from and teardown your million dollar house in their environment..just saying…

Jan 18, 2014 11:46am EST  --  Report as abuse
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