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Wolf recovery efforts in U.S. to end?

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Jun 07 2013 11:03:56 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 07 2013 11:04:29 PM CDT

Proposal considered to allow states to manage gray wolf populations

POCATELLO, Idaho -

The federal government wants to give management of wolf populations back to the states.

The Obama Administration is proposing an end to gray wolf recovery efforts across the United States.

But what does this mean for Idaho? Nothing, really.

Idaho is one of several states that has already had the protections lifted.

However, it does open up new possibilities for the state of Idaho.

From one side, there are people who think the wolf population needs to be managed to save elk populations, as well as sheep and cows.

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"We hope they won't continue to be problems for livestock operators,” said Public Relations Director for the Idaho Farm Bureau John Thompson. “But it's hard to see any way that they won't."

Thompson said it's important to remember hunters and farmers are affected by the growing number of wolves.

Hilary Cooley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gray wolf and carnivore coordinator for the Pacific, said the growing numbers are a good thing.

"They're constantly interacting with a huge population in Canada,” said Cooley. “When we look at that, it tells us they are not in danger of extinction and therefore they don't need to be on the endangered species list."

The gray wolf has been on the endangered species list for four decades.

Some also may wonder why the wolves are not being restored where their populations were in the first place.

"That is not the goal of the Endangered Species Act,” Cooley explained. “It's not to restore them everywhere they once were or even everywhere there's adequate habitats. It's to recover them so they are no longer endangered.”

This also raises the question of whether Idaho will follow Wyoming’s example, with a shoot-on-sight policy, instead of or in addition to Idaho’s current trapping and snaring laws.

"They're a very adaptable, very cunning, intelligent predator,” Thompson said. “They're the top of the food chain."

With the proposal, solutions for Idaho differ.

Cooley says the Fish and Wildlife Service need to focus on other endangered animals, and some farmers and hunters say they should be allowed to maintain the wolf population on their own terms.

In Oregon, the Fish and Wildlife Commission has adopted a temporary settlement to a lawsuit that had barred the killing of wolves that attack livestock.

The commission approved the rules and will consider making them permanent later this year.

For the past year, Oregon has been the only state where wolves could not be killed for attacking livestock. 

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