Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hunting & Killing Wolves: A Leap Backwards

Reportedly, Idaho Governor Butch Otter is planning to try and legalize wolf hunting the second the wolf's protection under the Endangered Species Act expires. Click here to read the article. The plan is to kill all but 100 wolves in Idaho...apparently dropping below 100 could trigger new protections.

If this doesn't highlight the need for the Endangered Species Act, I don't know what does. Scientists and researchers have worked since the 1970's to repopulate and reintroduce the gray wolf to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, where it was largely wiped out by hunting. So the second we get it back - having spent about 25 years and no doubt a ton of money - the Governor wants to wipe them out again. They annoy ranchers and kill livestock, but there are reimbursement programs for ranchers to be paid for downed stock, and ranchers could acquire guard dogs and implement other methods to literally keep the wolves at bay. The wolves kill elk and deer hunters would prefer to shoot - well of course they do. They actually need the meat to survive, unlike hunters, who are killing for recreation (and I'll set that appalling concept aside for another time).

Part of the hunter's justification argument for hunting is that deer and elk will over-populate if we don't license hunting. However, the over-population occurs because we have managed to kill off the natural predators of those animals. Now that we re-introduce the predators, and they eat the wild elk and deer, the hunters apparently complain that they aren't getting to do the killing.

This announcement by Butch Otter is revolting and appalling. I hope someone at the federal level is able to stop this insanity before a single wolf is killed. Defenders of Wildlife is raising money and encouraging people to write to legislators about the problem. To donate or get information on helping the cause, go to their website, You ccan also sign a petition to keep wolves in ID and WY protected by clicking here.

This is the first time I'm aware of where we've successfully repopulated a species and then faced the problem of idiots trying to wipe out all the progress that has been made by racing back down the path that led us to protect the species in the first place. It would be a crime to allow the protections of the Act to be wiped out in one fell swoop. The Act came about because people could not be trusted to think ahead and not wipe out other species for sport, out of carelessness, or in the name of alleged progress. Otter's actions just go to show the ESA is still very much needed.

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