Idaho Gov. Butch Otter today parted ways with the federal government over wolf management. Idaho (along with Montana and Wyoming) is irked that a federal judge last summer placed Rocky Mountain gray wolves back on the Endangered Species List, one year after taking them off.
Conservation groups had sued to continue protections, arguing that wolf population, although many times more robust than biologists had predicted when the top predators were re-introduced in the 1990s, were still not viable enough to survive being culled by hunters. Idaho and Montana allowed wolf hunts last fall and winter.
Monday, Otter told Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Idaho would no longer be the “designated agent” for managing “your wolves.” In his letter to Salazar, Otter writes:
“While some herald the introduction of wolves and the current population as a biological triumph, history will show that this program is a tragic example of oppressive, ham-handed ‘conservation’ at its worst. Starting today, at least the state will no longer be complicit.”
Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, one of the groups that sued to stop the states from conducting sport hunts for wolves, said, “Refusing to allow state agencies to participate in wolf management or to investigate, or enforce against, illegal killings of wolves is political showmanship, not the statesmanship that one expects from a governor.”
Unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency steps in, wolf management programs — including ones to pay ranchers for depredations against livestock — are halted. Otter said state game agents will turn their attention to the state’s wild ungulate populations.
Keith Allred, running against Otter for governor, called Otter’s move “reckless. Butch Otter has just weakened Idaho’s ability to find a real solution.”
Although maybe Otter has just seen this freaky security-camera footage of wolves run amok on a Russian highway: