For Immediate Release: November 6, 2023
President and Owner, Lava Lake Land & Livestock,
Western Watersheds Project,
Suzanne Asha Stone
International Wildlife Coexistence Network,
Cofounder, Blaine County Idaho Wood River Wolf Project
Idaho poised to hire private contractor to shoot wolves from aircraft
BOISE, Ida. – On October 26th, the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board (IWDCB) approved allocating over $140,000 to private contractors for aerial gunning, trapping, and snaring wolves in Idaho. The decision was made with no opportunity for comment or public review.
Trevor C. Walch, operator of the Nevada-based Predator Control Corporation, presented three of the five hunting proposals and is poised to be the primary beneficiary of three of the contracts to be executed by the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board, totaling over $100,000. His extensive record of violating wildlife laws has been uncovered since the meeting. In Nevada, this record includes selling furs without a license and trapping practices that the Nevada Chief Game Warden labeled “blatant illegal behavior.” Walch left an elk calf and other animals in traps for over ten days to die of dehydration and starvation. In Wyoming, Walch has been investigated for unlawful aerial hunting over federal lands.
The Board’s vote authorizes unlimited removal of wolves in game management units 21, 21a, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 32, 32a, 34, 36b, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 59, 60, 60a, 62, 65, 66, 66a, 67 and 76, which represents the wolf’s core range in Idaho.
Game Management Units 48 and 49 are home to the Wood River Wolf Project, which has been successfully working directly with ranchers, sheep herders, and community members in Blaine County since 2008 to promote coexistence with wolves and prevent livestock losses. The 2023 field season concluded in October, resulted in zero confirmed sheep losses to wolves amongst the 24,000 sheep in the 1,200 sq km (about half the area of Yosemite National Park) project area. The project regularly documents the lowest sheep losses to wolves in Idaho’s wolf range. Yet now, the state has targeted wolves in the Wood River Wolf Project’s area to be exterminated without cause.
Ranchers currently managing sheep in the Project Area were not notified of this decision. Since being notified of these proposals after the meeting, the Flat Top Sheep Company owners have withdrawn from the scheme and Lava Lake Land & Livestock’s owner and President Brian Bean has denounced the effort for its wasteful spending and risk of harm to the public.
Bean points out that pack disruption through partial lethal control will likely cause more, not fewer, wolf conflicts with livestock as individual survivors; especially as inexperienced juveniles, spread across the landscape and no longer subject to pack social discipline, turn to killing livestock for survival.
“The collective expense of these wolf
“Nonlethal deterrents work. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, year after year, to kill wolves — at this point, often pre-emptively and without evidence that wolves have actually killed livestock — says a lot about Idaho politics, about the Idaho State Legislature, about Idaho politicians generally and about the Idaho Wolf Livestock Depredation Control Board itself which only funds killing wolves with nothing allocated to nonlethal it’s expensive, wasteful, vindictive, and immoral,” states Bean, concluding, “It’s also, unfortunately, very much today’s Idaho.”
“The Wood River Wolf Pack in Blaine County is among those targeted by the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board, yet wolves here have the best record of living beside tens of thousands of sheep peacefully for 16 straight years. This year, ranchers in our project area reported no loss of sheep to the Wood River wolves with over 24,000 sheep present during the 2023 grazing season, making it one of the most successful years on record,” says Suzanne Asha Stone, IWCN Director. “By targeting this population of research wolves that are proving that nonlethal methods are more effective in protecting livestock than randomly killing wolves and other native carnivores, the state of Idaho is blatantly refusing to coexist with any wolves. Period.”
“These wolves live on our public lands that belong to all Americans,” she adds. “Our local community doesn’t want the state to kill our wolves. By enriching biodiversity and helping protect against catastrophic disease in elk and deer, they make essential contributions to a healthy ecosystem.”
“The Wolf Depredation Control Board’s decision to funnel more state money into private hands to kill wolves is just further evidence that the state will stop at nothing to get rid of the species,” says Talasi Brooks of Western Watersheds Project, an Idaho-based nonprofit. “It’s an affront to science-based wildlife management and a terrible waste of more than thirty years of work to bring wolves back.”