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Eye On Boise

Idaho suspends wolf tag sales in wake of federal court decision

Idaho has suspended wolf tag sales in the wake of today's federal court decision in Montana placing wolves back on the endangered species list and suspending wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana, where hunters took 188 and 73 wolves last year, respectively. Idaho Fish & Game Commission Chairman Dr. Wayne Wright called the decision "a major setback for responsible wildlife management in Idaho," and Gov. Butch Otter said he was "thoroughly disappointed and frustrated" and termed the decision "ill-advised." Click here for more on this story, and click below to read a full news release from Idaho Fish & Game, Otter's full statement, and a joint statement from Idaho's "disappointed" congressional delegation.

News Release

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
600 South Walnut
P.O. Box 25
Boise, ID 83707-0025                                                   

“To Preserve, Protect, Perpetuate and Manage”

For Immediate Release

Idaho Fish and Game Statement on Wolf Ruling

We are very disappointed by District Judge Donald Molloy’s ruling, returning gray wolves to endangered species protection.

“This is a major setback for responsible wildlife management in Idaho. We have demonstrated our ability to conduct a hunting season in an orderly fashion,” Idaho Fish and Game Commission Chairman Dr. Wayne Wright. “It’s a shame when legal twists can trump wildlife management. This is not how the Endangered Species Act should work.”

We don’t know yet what this means for the upcoming wolf season. But for the time being we have suspended wolf tag sales until we’ve had a chance to further review the decision.

“We’re frustrated; we’re angry; we’re disappointed,” Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said. “We’ve played by the rules, but his decision allows procedural technicalities to overcome sound science and common sense.”

Wolves south of Interstate 90 have reverted to management under a section of the Endangered Species Act known as the 10(j) rule, allowing some flexibility to respond to livestock depredation and impacts on big game. The rule also allows individuals on private or public land to kill a wolf that is in the act of attacking their stock animals or dogs. Wolf north of Interstate 90 in Idaho are fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Idaho still must follow the rule of law, and we will look at all legal options to see what’s the best way out of this mess. Fish and Game still will work to resolve conflicts between wolves and other game animals, including proposals to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wolf control actions to protect dwindling game herds and reduce livestock predation.



Boise – Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued this statement on the judge’s decision to return gray wolves in Idaho to the Endangered Species list.

“I am thoroughly disappointed and frustrated with the court’s decision today returning wolves to federal protection. Idaho has done everything asked of us by the federal government in order to delist wolves in our state and restore state management. The State of Idaho, through the Office of Species Conservation and Department of Fish and Game, proved to be an effective and responsible steward of the species under a plan praised by this very court. This judge has inexplicably dismissed a practical, common-sense solution and proven the Endangered Species Act is irreparably broken. The number of wolves in Idaho today is almost triple the population necessary for delisting throughout all three states. I don’t know why any state would ever allow another reintroduction of a species because the federal government and radical environmentalists simply cannot live up to their word and allow state management. Rest assured we will exhaust all of our options to legally reverse this ill-advised decision. Today’s decision should stand as an indictment of both the ESA and federal government.”


Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick issued the following statement after learning of Judge Donald Molloy’s decision to return wolves in the Rocky Mountains to the Endangered Species List:

“This decision is disappointing.  Judge Molloy ignored the exploding population of wolves in Idaho and the constitutional 10th Amendment right of a state to manage its own wildlife populations.  The recovery goals set when the wolf was introduced have been met and greatly exceeded.  We remain convinced Idaho can manage wolves in a sustainable and responsible way, just as it has done with other species for decades.  We look for a more reasonable decision from a higher court.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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