I have been following this story – There does not appear to be much ‘science’ behind the Idaho Fish and Game Department’s determination to kill wolves in Idaho (including “aerial gunning” of wolves from aeroplanes/helicopters)……
Well, I have taken a quick look at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game report into the Idaho Elk Management Plan (2014 – 2024).
What’s clear from a quick scan of this plan, is that elk hunting is an estimated “$175m USD” industry, where ‘planning’ is dedicated to satisfying hunters’ demands as far as possible it would seem.
“Rocky Mountain elk are Idaho’s premier big game animal. Idaho’s diversity of big game species is a hunter’s dream.” – Idaho Department of Fish and Game boasts in its ‘Executive Summary.’
Of course, any predator that might take elk numbers (rather than hunters killing the elk instead) is a threat to the industry income, the wolf being cited as a major culprit. It would seem to me as an outsider looking in I admit, that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is an authority run by hunters, for hunters (and that’s the only ‘elk conservation model’ that any such ethos can see as ‘credible’ to sustain habitat under their authority). So, the chances of any predator numbers (such as wolves) being ‘tolerated’ and receiving a balanced hearing appears slim when there are hunting income $$ at risk.
What I did not see in the report is any hunt harvesting numbers clearly displayed (apart from Fig 3, page 21 and page 48). So could over ‘harvesting’ by hunters also be a possible reason for the Lolo elk zone population decline (no reported ‘harvesting’ in Lolo noted), as no doubt Lolo elk herds migrate between zones where they are subject to ‘harvesting’ and not return to their previous zone in sustainable numbers?
When hunters were asked how important various reasons were for them to hunting elk, the top 6 reasons cited in the plan were “just being outdoors,” “seeing elk in a natural setting,” “being close to nature,” “viewing scenery,” “being with friends,” and “doing something with my family.” Of course, one can do all those things without killing elk (or any other animals for that matter), with arrows and bullets.
So the killing part must also be a very important factor to the hunters, but perhaps they are not so willingness to admit it so readily (killing for meat of course, not just for the pleasure of killing as that would be ‘unacceptable’ right?). This ”just being outdoors” included hunters resorting to unethical practices such as “flock shooting,” “party hunting” and firing at will from vehicles with “road hunting.” So this latter element is all part of being with friends/family and having fun killing stuff for some hunters I assume, but shows little ethics or any recognisable form of ‘conservation’ in such actions. I don’t believe the cited hunters’ motivations are ‘realistic’ on any level.
I hope that a more tolerant, balanced, humane and inclusive ‘conservation’ stance is taken by those in authority for the sake of all wildlife that might prey on elk (including wolves, mountain lions, black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, bobcats and golden eagles) and not just continue to pander to hunters’ demands.
And it’s not just an unbalanced approach in Idaho it seems, with the unscientific ‘delisting’ of the gray wolf in Oregon last autumn, removing the gray wolf’s protection from the Endangered Species Act. Again, is this an act of ‘conservation,’ or just a measure to crudely protect ‘game’ animals from prey so the hunter can kill (sorry, “harvest“) the game instead for their own selfish needs?
By Steve Bertel
Feb 15, 2016
BOISE – Dozens gathered on the steps of the Idaho Statehouse Monday afternoon to show support for wolf recovery in Idaho and opposition to Idaho’s Wolf Depredation Control Board and the recent aerial gunning of wolves in the “Lolo Zone” by the USDA Wildlife Services and Idaho Fish and Game Department.
Demonstrators – from the Defenders of Wildlife and Friends of the Clearwater groups — want an end to what they called Idaho’s “wasteful Wolf Control Board and the termination of the USDA Wildlife Services aerial gunning program in the Lolo Zone on the Clearwater National Forest.”
The Idaho Fish and Game Department recently announced the completion of an aerial gunning exercise by the USDA Wildlife Services that resulted in the killing of 20 wolves in that area, according to the groups.
The Wolf Control Board is now requesting an additional $400,000 for…
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