Conservation groups sue USDA Wildlife Services over Idaho wolf kill

Featured image: School children in Montana pose with wolves that Wildlife Services killed with aerial gunning

     by Predator Defense

Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services’ killing of gray wolves in Idaho.

The agency killed at least 72 wolves in Idaho last year, using methods including foothold traps, wire snares that strangle wolves, and aerial gunning from helicopters.

The agency has used aerial gunning in central Idaho’s “Lolo zone” for several years in a row — using planes or helicopters to run wolves to exhaustion before shooting them from the air, often leaving them wounded to die slow, painful deaths. The agency’s environmental analysis from 2011 is woefully outdated due to changing circumstances, including new recreational hunting and trapping that kills hundreds of wolves in Idaho each year, and significant changes in scientific understanding of wolves and ecosystem functions.

Wildlife Services does most of its wolf-killing at the behest of the livestock industry, following reports of livestock depredation. For example, five wolves were killed outside of Hailey, Idaho in July 2015 for allegedly attacking sheep. Documents indicate that Wildlife Services has even attempted to kill wolves in the newly-designated Boulder-White Clouds Wildernesses. But Wildlife Services does not consider whether livestock owners took common-sense precautionary measures to avoid conflicts with wolves such as lambing indoors.

“Wildlife Service’s wolf-killing program is senseless, cruel, and impoverishes our wild country,” said Travis Bruner of Western Watersheds Project. “Killing wolves for private livestock interests is wrong, especially on public lands, where wildlife deserves to come first. In addition, new science shows that it does not reduce conflicts long-term.”

“Wildlife Services has never even bothered to consider how much mortality a healthy wolf population can handle,” said Andrea Santarsiere of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Recent research indicates the state may be overestimating wolf populations — something Wildlife Services must consider before killing more wolves.”

“It is long past time that we base wildlife management decisions on the best available science, not on antiquated, disproven anti-wolf rhetoric,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director 2 for WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife Services needs to come out of the shadows, update its analyses and adopt practices in keeping with modern science and values about the ethical treatment of animals.”

The agency also kills wolves for the purported benefit of elk herds, including in the Lolo zone.

“The campaign waged against the Lolo’s native wolves in the name of elk is reprehensible. Science shows that the elk decline there is due to long-term, natural-habitat changes, not impacts from wolves,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “It is particularly galling that Wildlife Services is targeting wolves that mostly live in Wildernesses or large roadless areas. These, especially, are places where wolves should be left alone.”

“Wildlife Services, formerly called Animal Damage Control, has been criticized for over fifty years by some of our nation’s leading predator biologists. It has a long, documented history of violating state and federal laws, and even its own directives,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “Idahoans and the American public deserve a guarantee that federal programs like Wildlife Services are using the most up-to-date scientific information available.”

The five conservation organizations are asking the court to order Wildlife Services to cease wolfkilling activities until it prepares an up-to-date environmental analysis of its wolf-killing program. The groups — Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians and Predator Defense — are represented by Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project attorneys. Read the complaint here.


4 thoughts on “Conservation groups sue USDA Wildlife Services over Idaho wolf kill”

  1. Keep in mind that All Wildlife Animals play important roles in our ecosystems without them we won’t survive and will cease to exist. World leaders need to wake up and need to care more about the Environment and Wildlife Animals

  2. On behalf of the Regents of The BHUMI DEVI BRIGADE, we also declare “time is short..action must be swift and ruthless”! When it comes to slaughter wolves our fellowship’s storied regents envision “re-incarnating the uniquely soviet phenomenon alle the GULAG” . In these facilities we propose to subject our capitives to a terminal existence punctuated by the rigamoursous bodies eventually cave into after having been subjected to brutal hard labour /cold dark prison facilities and meager and undernourished bodies. Our captives will be subjected to ceaseless miserable conditions fostering an expedient death such wanton wildlife criminals deserve. A mutiny is coming; The PRIOVISIONAL ECOLOGICAL AUTHORITY will define the transitional culture for small portion of humanity to surive as the planter catastrophe of unbridelled Global warming unfolds. to the shit fer brain citizens whove ‘ waisted their lives on destroying the Grey Wolve nation…a very unfortunate fate awaits all of you!

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