Undeterred by a recent court decision that reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in coordination with the state of Idaho has issued an environmental assessment that calls for the killing of up to 80% of the area’s wolves.
This extreme USDA Wildlife Services proposal will even go so far as to include gassing defenseless wolf pups in their dens, pursuing and shooting wolves from helicopters and sterilization of breeding pairs of wolves.
USDA Wildlife Services is the agency responsible for exterminating wolves during the last century. Now that wolves have been restored to the Northern Rockies, they want to begin killing them again, ostensibly to protect domestic livestock and big game animals. Wildlife Services claims in the proposal that such drastic action is needed to address livestock predation as well as elk herd declines. Yet, according to a recent report by Idaho Fish and Game, elk are within or above management objective in 23 of 29 elk management areas. Additionally, there are many nonlethal steps ranchers can take to effectively prevent livestock loss to wolves.
The now closed public comment period for the USDA Wildlife Services proposal has produced substantial opposition. Secretary Vilsack needs to intervene to stop this senseless slaughter before it begins.