BOISE – Keith Allred, Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, announced Thursday that he opposes Gov. Butch Otter’s decision to pull Idaho out of wolf management, and that if elected, he’d reverse it.
“We should be expanding state control, not giving it away to the federal government,” Allred said. “If we want wolves delisted, we need to stay in the game.”
He contended Otter’s move would harm the state’s efforts to win federal approval for a big wolf-kill in the Lolo district and to push both in Congress and in court to get wolves again removed from the endangered species list.
“With state control, Idaho monitors the wolf population and their predation rates on wildlife and livestock,” Allred said. “That’s the only way to show Congress, the courts and federal agencies that we can do the job they can’t. … We’re giving away our strongest argument at a critical time.” He added, “We’ve just, in a fit of anger, thrown up our hands and said we won’t play.”
Otter responded, “I disagree with my opponent’s definition of sovereignty and his idea about the state’s role.”
In a statement Thursday, he said, “State sovereignty to me isn’t managing a federally protected species under miles of federal red tape as a designated agent of the same government that forced wolves on the people of Idaho in 1994 without regard for the devastating impacts it will have on our wildlife, livestock and way of life.” Otter said Idaho still can pursue its application for the wolf-kill in the Lolo district without being the federal government’s designated agent for wolf management.
Allred also was critical of Otter for telling the Associated Press earlier this week that federal law allows hunters to shoot wolves they see pursuing elk or moose, then having to clarify his comments the next day and warn Idaho hunters not to shoot wolves.
Otter told the AP he still believes big game are Idaho’s “livestock,” and that residents should be able to protect them like any livestock owner, but that actually shooting a wolf likely would violate federal law.
Allred called the incident “part of a four-year pattern,” and said, “Idaho can’t afford to see what Otter’s next mistake will be.”
Otter, a Republican, is seeking a second term as Idaho governor; in addition to Allred, he faces challenges from independents Jana Kemp and Pro-Life and Libertarian Ted Dunlap.