Letters to the editor: 12-23-2013

December 23, 2013 

Wolves and elk

So Idaho Fish and Game can’t figure out why the elk in the high country are starving? If you were an elk and had the choice of migrating down to winter feeding grounds and risk being eaten alive by packs of ravenous wolves or staying up in the deep snow and starving, which would you prefer? No mystery here — get rid of the wolves, which have no use at all to anyone!


The story on Fish and Game’s latest ploy for gunning down wolves, (“Idaho Fish and Game turns to hired hunter,” Dec. 17), was extremely disturbing.

It’s unbelievable that in the 21st century we’re returning to the days of state-hired bounty hunters to further decimate a wolf population already reduced by more than 10 percent this past year, mainly due to wolf hunting.

State-hired bounty hunters are killing wolves because Idaho hunters think wolves are killing too many elk that Idaho hunters want to kill. We’re quickly getting a good idea of where this absurd line of thinking ends: In the two years since federal protections have been stripped from wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes regions, more than 2,000 have been slaughtered.

How quickly we forget the work it took to save wolves from extinction with the Endangered Species Act, which turns 40 on Dec. 28. We know the act works — it’s prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species it protects and put many on the road to recovery.

The act works and that’s why some folks want to drop protections for wolves: First they kill the protections, then they kill all the wolves.


The Dec. 17 Statesman reported that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has hired a professional hunter to kill wolf packs in the drainage of the Middle Fork Salmon River. My reaction? Utter disgust.

IDFG is engaging in what I call “industrial wildlife management” in the Idaho wilderness. The product? Income from license sales.


Fish and Game policy says the agency “will not support any activities involving the taking of predators, which may portray hunting in an unethical fashion, devalue the predator and which may be offensive to the general public” (Page A2 Idaho Statesman on Dec. 17). How does the department rationalize the hiring of a professional hunter to kill wolves in a designated wilderness area given its stated policy on managing predators? Could it be political pandering to the outfitting industry and anti-wolf groups? After over 40 years as a student of predator-prey relationships and predator ecology, I am at a loss to understand this decision within the bounds of enlightened wildlife management, and believe this program is at complete odds with the stated, but largely ignored, policy.


I am appalled at the wolf and coyote derby scheduled in Salmon on the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act — the first competitive wolf shoot in the U.S. since 1974.

Public reaction should be of concern to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and to citizens throughout the state. The proposed contest, with participants as young as 10 and cash prizes for killing the biggest wolf or the most female coyotes, is deeply repugnant and offensive to many in the general public. Idaho should be ashamed.

The proposed derby does not represent hunters as responsible or respectful of wildlife. Even many hunters agree that killing for prizes is unethical and violates fair chase. As the Idaho Statesman’s Rocky Barker notes, “predator derbys ... largely have held their targets up for ridicule, not respect.”

The contest has sparked outrage among conservationists and wildlife groups across the nation. Regional and national media have noted the “outcry.” This does not represent Idaho well in the national eye.

The derby fans the flames of one of the most controversial issues in wildlife management today — wolf management. Citizens should press for some type of guidelines governing such contests.

JEAN BJERKE, Island Park

Idaho is set to become home to a brutal wolf slaughter the week after Christmas. On Dec. 28-29, a senseless derby is being hosted by Idaho For Wildlife, an anti-wolf group. A chief reason that Idaho wolves are being slaughtered is because big-game outfitters don’t want them eating “their” elk. Organizers admit that one purpose of the event is to show the world that no one can stop them from killing wolves. Trophies and prize money will be awarded for such hunting objectives as killing the largest wolf and the most female coyotes. Children as young as 10 years of age are being invited to participate. What are we teaching our children?

The Basin Butte Pack could have brought millions of eco-tourism dollars to the Salmon/Stanley area. Instead, the wolves from that pack have all been killed. Wolf slaughter is out of control. We have about 650 wolves now, but that number is being reduced to 300 or less by hunting, trapping and snaring. In lieu of respect for the wolves in our beautiful state as a vital part of the ecosystem, the mentality is now “wolves for cash.” In Salmon, for sure.


Health care

This, perhaps, is how we solve health care. Just make available to everyone the same health care that our politicians receive.


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