In Defense of Wolves and Wilderness

Online Messenger #263

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Western Watersheds Project is a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit filed yesterday that challenges the Forest Service’s acquiescence to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) plan to kill two packs of wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area (FCRONR) on the Payette National Forest in central Idaho.  Today, we’ve asked Judge Lodge at the U.S. District Court of Idaho to stop the extermination effort immediately.

The IDFG has sent a hired gun into the FCRONR Wilderness to kill two packs of wolves, the Golden Pack and the Monumental Pack, that the department claims are reducing elk populations to the detriment of human hunting. The IFGD will be using Forest Service cabins as a base camp for the extermination efforts.

The FCRONR is the largest forested wilderness in the continental United States, and removing wolves disrupts the wilderness character and the ecological balance of the area. Doing so violates federal law and policy and goes against the FCRONR Wilderness Management Plan.

In particular, because the IDFG is targeting entire wolf packs, the Forest Service is allowing it to break from the Wilderness Management Plan which states that wildlife “damage control” actions in the Wilderness will be allowed only “to protect Federally listed threatened and endangered species, to prevent transmission of diseases or parasites affecting other wildlife and humans, or to prevent serious losses of domestic livestock.”

The plan also states, “[w]ildlife damage control must be approved by the [Forest Service] on a case-by-case basis,” and all control efforts must “[d]irect control at individual animals causing the problem,” and “[u]se only the minimum amount of control necessary to solve the problem.”

Wiping out two wolf packs without any public participation or environmental review violates these management principles. It also sets a terrible precedent for state management of wildlife to override the federal laws on federal lands. This action must not stand.

Western Watersheds Project and our co-plaintiffs Wilderness Watch, Defenders of Wildlife, and Dr. Ralph Maughan are represented by attorney Tim Preso at Earthjustice. Thank you Tim!

Read the complaint here.

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