Letters to the Editor: 01-15-14

January 15, 2014 

The Idaho Fish and Game is listening to the wrong howl. When wolves were restored to Idaho in 1995, the wild was put back in wilderness. This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and our state, ironically and irresponsibly, has hired a professional to kill them.

When the wolves came in, elk became scarcer. They dispersed and became wary, more wild. Guide — Outfitters and their clients, who pay up to $5,000 each, howled. So the state established a wolf season, not just out where cattle and house pets might be affected, but also in the wilderness.

This didn’t placate the hunters. Their howl became a steady whine in the ear of Fish and Game. “The wolves are too smart,” they said. “The country is too steep and difficult to reach.” “We can’t kill enough wolves.” Fish and Game listened again. The trapper is there now using traps and snares, which indiscriminately maim and kill wildlife.

It’s time those of us who value true wilderness put up a howl of our own. If elk numbers are down, why not limit the hunters, not the wolves?


Wolves are the flagship species of predators! As such, they keep themselves and other predators in balance with their prey species. This ensures healthy populations of predator and prey.

A visit with biologists in the Yellowstone area will document this relationship. A side benefit of this balance is stream zones that are no longer trashed by excess numbers of elk and buffalo.

The problem with elk hunting is that the presence of wolves has caused elk to act like elk and not domestic livestock. The days of hunting camps full of fifth-wheel trailers and four-wheelers with whole elk on the meat pole are over.

Now, hunters will have to get out there and be real, or just go buy a cow to shoot.

My challenge to Fish and Game biologists is to practice what you know and stay out of politics.


That Fish and Game is trapping two wolf packs in wilderness designated by Congress seems ethically wrong and biologically defunct. Ethically, if wolves can’t exist in wilderness, where can they? Forest Service involvement seems in contradiction to law, regulation and policy, but I will leave that to the attorneys. That this was apparently planned behind closed doors is most bothersome. Director Moore’s op-ed falls short. I don’t see the arguments as biologically sound. There are no empty niches. The habitat will be repopulated by wolves. Therefore, will trapping be an activity without end? It seems somewhat anti-Darwinian.

I have been mostly silent on matters wolf since my retirement. But this is different, I think.

While I feel for the rock-and-a-hard-place position of Fish and Game on many fish and wildlife issues, understand the political climate in which the department must operate and choose to remain silent for the most part, I think the department has used extremely poor judgment in funding a trapper to go into the wilderness to kill two packs of wolves. To me it is over the top.

Reader letters, regardless of the position they take, will begin to bring transparency and civil discourse. Such discussion is a good thing, I think.

ROY HEBERGER, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, retired, Boise

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