Federal wildlife officials confirmed Monday that they are in the midst of an Idaho-sponsored wolf control effort in the Clearwater Region’s Lolo zone, Lewiston Tribune reporter Eric Barker writes. It’s the third year in a row that the Wildlife Services program and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have joined forces to kill wolves in the remote country drained by the Lochsa and North Fork of the Clearwater rivers, where elk herds have been struggling for nearly two decades, he reports. But neither agency would elaborate on the details of the operation that they had wished to keep secret until its completion.
“Our policy is to not release information out of concern for operation safety until after an action is complete,” said Mike Keckler, an Idaho Fish and Game spokesman in Boise.
Barker reports that that desire was upended when the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife announced the action late Monday in a news release and called on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to put a stop it. Wildlife Services is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can read Barker’s full report here.
When Todd Grimm, director of USDA Wildlife Services’ Idaho operations, was questioned by a state senator yesterday during the budget hearing for the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board about how many wolves have been killed through the board’s efforts in 2015 and so far in 2016, he said 72 wolves had been killed through the board’s efforts in calendar year 2015 – the board contracts with Wildlife Services for the wolf kills – but offered no information about 2016 so far.
Keckler said no wolf depredation cases, attacks by wolves on livestock, have been reported in Idaho since mid-October of 2015.