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Basin Butte wolf pack mowed down by Idaho Wildlife Services

[large thumbnail url=”basin-butte-wolf-pack-mowed-down-by-idaho-wildlife-services” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”12″ day=”02″] [thumbnail icon url=”basin-butte-wolf-pack-mowed-down-by-idaho-wildlife-services” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”12″ day=”02″]  Ralph Maughan, on his well respected blog, reports the aerial shooting of a pack of Idaho wolves.

Is there an explanation for this in the middle of the scheduled wolf hunt?

Right in the middle of the wolf hunt and in the zone where there is the highest quota, Wildlife Services took to the air this week in their gunships and blasted away the long-standing Basin Butte Pack at Stanley, Idaho. This is one of 26 wolf packs Wildlife Service has labeled as a “chronic depredating” pack, which seems to mean a pack that at one or more times killed some domestic livestock.

It doesn’t mean killed recently, however. All the livestock left the area for the winter in October.

This pack has lived around Stanley, mostly in Stanley Basin for about 5 years now. Even summer and part of the fall thousands of cattle and sheep are trucked into what many regard as Idaho most scenic valley. Every year or so the pack kills a calf or two. Amazingly it stays near the town of Stanley, even within city limits. If this was a pack that was going to be taken during the wolf hunt, this would seem to be it.

I think there needs to be some explanation why Idaho Fish and Game’s regional supervisor approved the killing of this pack of 7-10 wolves in the middle of the wolf hunt 7 months before the cows show up again.

You might want to call Jim Lukens, the Salmon area regional supervisor and ask him. (208) 756-2271. Approval of Wildlife Services wolf kills has been parceled out to the regional supervisors, like Mark Gamlin (who seems to have few to no wolves in his district).

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The real wolf hunt is about to begin?

One possibility is they just got too frustrated watching this pack avoid wolf hunters. I have heard through the grapevine, however, that from now until the wolf population is down to the 500 they view acceptable (for now), Idaho Fish and Game and Wildlife Services is going to reduce the wolf numbers by any means possible. In fact, they admit it. They have spoken on the public record time and time again that they have lots of other “tools in the their toolbox.” The meaning should be clear. It is just the start date they haven’t announced.

Last winter, Wildlife Services said there were 26 “chronic depredating packs” that needed to be eliminated. I’ve reported on this many times before. Once a pack a labeled, WS means to get it. It doesn’t depend on the pack’s behavior. It seems to be like a child who comes from a family where one or more members got in trouble, so he or she is labeled as a “criminal type” for the rest of their life. They just need a nod from ID Fish and Game.

I have not ranted against the wolf hunts as much as some people expected. I’ve suggested data collection about the hunt that could advance the cause of science. I have been hopeful they will be responsible.

However, in Idaho the wolf take has stalled out for now at about 105 wolves, although I suspect it will become easier again once the snow is deep. At a deeper level, I haven’t complained about the wolf hunt because I don’t think it is the real hunt. The real hunt is actually the slaughter, mostly from the air, that might now be underway. There won’t be news releases. It will begin silently in the winter and there are really no quotas, no end of the season, and no limit on the methods — no fair chase. They may well be denning pups this late spring, even putting out poison if Idaho’s wolves continue to be resourceful. It is a 21st Century high tech killing machine against the spirit of the wolf, fueled by 19th Century beliefs on behalf of the state’s livestock nobility.

Ralph’s blog is well worth keeping up with for updates on Yellowstone wolves and news about the Northern Rockies wolves.

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