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Good news! New Agreement Restricts Wolf-killing and ‘Cyanide Bombs’ in Idaho

Phantom Hill wolf/ Photo by Randy Flood

March 11, 2020

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve reached an important new legal agreement with USDA’s Wildlife Services which will result in immediate on-the-ground wolf protections in Idaho!

Today’s settlement is the result of a case we filed in 2016 challenging the federal agency’s use of an outdated environmental analysis that was inadequate because it failed to consider recreational hunting and trapping that kills hundreds of wolves in Idaho each year, and significant advances in scientific understanding of wolves and their importance to ecosystem function. Wildlife Services does most of its wolf killing on behalf of the livestock industry, despite the fact that public lands ranchers are not required to take any proactive measures to prevent livestock conflicts in wolf habitat, and despite the fact that wolf killing does nothing to reduce future livestock losses.

Two key provisions in the agreement are Western Watersheds Project’s particular contributions: First, until Wildlife Services completes an Environmental Impact Statement, the use M-44 ‘cyanide bombs’ is prohibited anywhere in Idaho. Second, it stops Wildlife Services from killing wolves in the Sawtooth Valley (and National Recreation Area) and Wood River corridors while it assesses the impacts of its activities! 

In 2010, the Phantom Hill Pack, which inhabited the Wood River Valley, was wiped out by Wildlife Services when it wandered into the Sawtooth Valley, even though ranchers in the neighboring Wood River Valley had committed to ‘coexistence’ practices. WWP is committed to protecting wolves to enhance their opportunity to recolonize their natural habitats.

The settlement also sets strict limitations on the use of snares and traps, banning the use of snares targeting wolves on public lands, and requiring trap features that cannot be triggered by smaller animals.

Today’s agreement also blocks Wildlife Services from engaging in lethal activities targeting wolves in wilderness areas throughout Idaho, including the Boulder-White Cloud Complex, Big Jacks Creek, Little Jacks Creek, Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers, Craters of the Moon, Frank Church-River of No Return, Gospel-Hump, Hells Canyon, North Fork Owyhee, Owyhee River, Pole Creek, Sawtooth, and Selway-Bitterroot Wildernesses.

Thank you to WWP’s staff attorneys and outside counsel at Advocates for the West! Our coplaintiffs in the litigation included Center for Biological DiversityWildEarth GuardiansFriends of the Clearwater, and Predator Defense.

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