The Maurice Clements guest opinion begs a reply. I represented the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Team. My instructions from the director, as well as the commission, were to support natural recolonization; the IDFG did not endorse transplanting wolves into Idaho.
Legislators supported the transplant plan. They reasoned jump-starting the wolf population would be the fastest way to get wolves delisted, thereby removing Endangered Species Act protection. A Utah legislator unsuccessfully tried to secure federal money to transplant wolves. Idaho’s senior senator, James McClure, stepped forward and was able to get funds appropriated.
Mr. Clements failed to point out that when wolves were released in Idaho, legislators passed legislation forbidding Fish and Game from being involved in any wolf research and/or management. Consequently that responsibility was given to the Nez Perce Tribe. Several years later this legislation was rescinded, and currently Fish and Game and the Nez Perce share responsibility in wolf management and research.
Determining the exact number of wolves, as well as any fish or wildlife species, is impossible. The current method provides a minimum number with which to document the status of the statewide wolf population relative to mandated population recovery goals and management objectives.
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Mike Schlegel, Grangeville