Saturday, March 04, 2006

Idaho wolf kill proposal update

Further down in my blog you will find my letter to the Idaho Fish and Game in opposition to their proposal to kill 75% of the wolves in two district of Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. Well, the results of the public comment period are in - 42,419 comments. 41,738 were opposed to the plan! All of these except 681 came from a Defenders of Wildlife Campaign. Of the 681 letters that did not come from the Defenders campaign, 2/3 were opposed to the plan! I found this statistic very surprising and encouraging. It is yet to be determined if this will cause the Idaho Fish and Game to change their proposal.

It is great to see that so many people participated in the Defenders of Wildlife campaign from around the country and around the world, although I am not convinced it is a good thing. While the comments cannot be ignored, many in Idaho have a fairly independent philosophy and are generally offended when others outside the state, including the federal government, try to tell them what to do. This response will likely cause even more engagement from those in support of the plan.

Another comment on the IF&G statistics. IF&G is promoting this statistic in all of the news reports - "wolves have been responsible for 32 percent of the elk deaths in the Lolo region since 2002". This is carried on by the media as if this is a outrageous statistic. First, people hear it and think that 32% of the elk have been killed (which in an of itself is not unreasonable as elk generally live 12-14 years). No the statistic simply says that of those that died, 32% were killed by wolves. Wolves generally kill the old a sick elk. A strong healthy elk has little to worry about from a wolf pack. I personally have witnessed an adult elk hold off a pack of 5 wolves. This statistic does not say how many of these elk would have died anyway. People need to remember that in a healthy ecosystem, very few animals die of old age, they generally die from predators. Before wolf reintroduction, we had more animals dying of old age, broken bones, and other accidents. Now we have wolves that keep the healthy elk healthier, by reducing disease, and keep the old and sick from a long suffering decline. That is how nature works, like it or not.

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