Guest Opinions

Guest Opinion: Big, bad wolves are ravaging Idaho backcountry

Recent reports to the contrary, the government does not have a handle on the number of wolves in Idaho. Not even close. Earlier in April, the state Department of Fish and Game released a report that said there are at least 770 wolves in Idaho. If you believe what the department had to say, there were 26 breeding pairs, down from 49 six years ago. I don’t believe them at all. There are more, way more, than the government lets on.

Listen to what Jim Hayden, a biologist and wolf counter at the Department of Fish and Game, is telling us about his wolf numbers, as reported in The Spokesman-Review newspaper: “The 770 is a number we’re very confident with. We know the actual truth is higher than that, we just don’t know how far higher.” Read that line again: “We just don’t know how far higher.” He also went on to say that the agency stopped looking for breeding pairs after surveying 43 packs “because it’s expensive” and they had enough data to suit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Idaho’s backcountry is being overrun by wolves. Wolves are ruthless predators. They’re super smart, constantly breeding and constantly on the prowl for food anywhere they inhabit. Throughout history, man has fought back because man had no choice but to do so. Wolves have long created problems for farmers, ranchers and urbanization. Wolves kill, slaughter, invade and destroy. Some of the earliest laws passed in the new American colonies were laws allowing for bounties to be paid for each wolf killed.

In the late 1800s, wolf depredation was so bad, some states also adopted bounty programs to eradicate the animal. That wasn’t enough, and that’s the reason why Congress, as early as 1915, sought the removal of wolves from lands in the West by appropriating $125,000 to drive them out.

Now, of course, environmentalists claim we have too few wolves. The problem with the wolf count is that we have too many. We have so many wolves that they’re destroying wildlife. Traditional trophy deer and elk habitats have been sacked. They’re destroying livestock. Wolves — and far more of them than just the 770 the government claims exist — are leaving a trail of destruction in Idaho’s backcountry. And while government bean counters and pencil pushers claim they have the problem well at hand, they don’t.

We’re not “managing” wolves. We’re being inundated by them, and the government is pretending to have a grasp of how many we have in our midst. The biologists either have their collective heads in the sand or they’re willfully and wantonly misleading the public. Meanwhile, environmentalists are ignoring the history contending that somehow, miraculously, wolves have stopped doing what they always do with precision — propagate the species — and that the wolves deserve even greater protection.

Our vast natural resources are being jeopardized, our hunting grounds are disappearing, our wildlife are being ravaged. And the Department of Fish and Game and the governor’s office are doing nothing. When will the so-called “leaders” of this state wake up to the great farce that is wolf reintroduction and annual wolf counts, and do something to stop the rape, pillage and massacre taking place by the predatory wolves that are growing in number?