Friday, May 23, 2008

Wolf Politics Continue

The Idaho Fish and Game commission are up to their same old trick of ignoring the biologists and wildlife managers. Since wolves were removed from the endangered species list a couple of months ago, the Idaho Fish and Game have been working on their hunting season rules.  They just can't wait to let the killing begin. They published a set of rules and took public comment. I submitted my comments that while my personal desire was to delay the hunting season, I thought they had put together a reasonable plan. I encouraged them to be more conservative with the number of allowed deaths. The plan included a total mortality rate of 328 wolves this year.  If that amount was reached, all hunting would be shut down.

In classic fashion, the Idaho Fish and Game commission rejected the recommendation from the staff and increased the total mortality by 100 wolves. They also changed the rules to allow the season to be extended to ensure that as many wolves be killed as possible. They have been arguing for some time that wolves should be managed like any other game animal, but now that they have the chance, they are providing rules which are more anti-game than is used for any other game species they manage.

None of this is a surprise to me. I have believed all along that this issue would just go away if the Fish and Game would put forth a reasonable plan, build trust, and manage to that plan. But those in power in our state just can't let that happen.  They have to demonstrate to their base that they are in power and don't have to be reasonable.  This decision has nothing to do with wildlife management, concern for the people of Idaho, or fulfilling the legal responsibility of their job.  Instead it is a simple F**k You to the federal government for reinstating wolves in Idaho and to the majority of Idahoans which believe that wolves should be here and should be responsibly managed.

I am not a wildlife manager but I will make this prediction, the aggressive hunting rules will cause more trouble than they predict. Large mortality rates will destroy the pack infrastructure of many packs creating many more lone and dispersed wolves.  These wolves will lose the opportunity to gain the culture of the pack which is important for them to stay out of trouble (think of teenagers without guidance). These wolves will get into more trouble than the pack infrastructure we have today as they will be less effective at hunting their big prey.  They will also disperse greater distances leaving ideal (and now dangerous) territory for some place else.  On these journeys they will run in with more people, more domestic animals, and more livestock. As a result, even more of them will be killed. Of course, this is exactly what the commissioners hope will happen.

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John B. said...

It sounds like there is a good chance the wolf will be listed again before long. It's too bad the state government won't manage them responsibly.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you've said. I've been following this issue sadly as well. I see it as creating a similar situation to that in Africa with rogue male elephants... Their being over-hunted for ivory, has produced a bunch of lone males that didn't grow up with a herd to learn from, and now they're terrorizing the countryside. It's prompted big money rescues and relocations of these animals into herds in an attempt to fix the problem.
Sometimes people think that our ideals fit with mother nature, and all it really does is muck with what's natural.
People in this state don't understand that the wolves are needed to naturally cull the deer, elk, moose, etc. Naturally, it's a rollercoaster effect... some years are high herbivore populations, then the carnivores pick up... it's not going to reduce the number of herbivores that hunters get to go after. Frankly, i understand how the ranchers feel... it's expensive to lose any number of the herd... but if you're in that business, i'de think you calculate in a certain percentage of loss if you're grazing in or near wild areas. As you mention, if the wolf packs are managed naturally, the ranchers won't have as many issues. They're just anti-wolf.
Shemani - You're Nighthawk friend in Idaho Falls!

20sub3 said...

The insanity of government officials is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, those who seek power also take advantage of it...