Monday, December 17, 2007

Idaho Wolf Plan

The Idaho wolf plan from the Idaho Fish and Game Department is out for public comment. They will be accepting comments until December 31. Listed below are the various ways to submit comments. I submitted mine through the online web forum. I would have liked a little better confirmation that the comments were actually received, but I liked the fact that it captured comments in specific areas of the plan.  This in theory will enable them to more closely align the comments with the specific areas of the plan in which they are targeted. Here are the possible ways to submit comments:

The main points that I made are:

We have not yet reached the carrying capacity for wolves in the state.  Since we currently have greater than 700 wolves in the state, the capacity is somewhat higher than this. The only management numbers identified in the proposal is to lower the population to close to 104 wolves. This would be less than 15% of the carrying capacity. One of the "objectives" of the plan is to allow wolves to fulfill their ecological role in the ecosystem. 15% or less of the carrying capacity will mean that we will get at most 15% of the benefit, but probably lower. To truly gain ecosystem wide advantage a population much closer to the carrying capacity would be required.  I believe the limit to be greater than 80% of the carrying capacity.

Another of the objectives stated in the plan is to promote populations in border areas so that populations can intermix with populations in other states and to disperse to new states. To reasonably accomplish this, those populations would have to be maintained near the carrying capacity.  Competition with other wolves is a primary reason for wolf dispersals into other areas. 104 wolves is way too few to accomplish this objective.

Two of the objectives stated in the plan relate directly to hunting. The first is to allow hunting of wolves and the second is to allow multiple different ways of hunting wolves. These seem entirely inappropriate for a management plan.  Hunting should be a tool in the plan, but not an objective of the plan.

Another objective in the plan is to use hunting to minimize conflicts with other wildlife and with livestock. This objective clearly points out the bias in the plan.   The fish and game believe that elk must be protected from wolves.  These two creatures co-evolved together for thousands of years, yet we believe that we must interfere.  We need these two creatures to maintain their own ecosystem balance without our interference. I do support hunting to decrease conflicts with livestock with some exceptions.  First, I do not believe that wolves should be killed for killing livestock on public lands. This is a risk that livestock managers should face for using all of our lands. The ecosystems on our public lands are critical and we must return the health of the ecosystem by enabling the keystone predator to take its full position (full carrying capacity).

My overall suggestion for the plan is to let the wolf population grow until we discover the true carrying capacity of the state.  We can then enable hunting along the edges of public land to decrease conflicts with livestock on private land.   The total population of wolves should not be allowed to drop below 80% of the total carrying capacity.

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