take action on wolf management
On Sept. 16, 2010 in a special meeting, the Idaho County Board of Commissioners signed a resolution declaring a disaster for the wolf situation in our county. Our action was a result of a federal judge's ruling to reinstate the wolves to endangered species status. He ruled on a technicality in the Endangered Species Act where interpretation suggests species cannot be managed along political boundaries.
We are working with the Idaho Association of Counties and other jurisdictions on effective wolf management plans. The introduction of the Canadian Gray Wolves came with the assurance there would be only 10 breeding pairs. That agreement has ballooned to a far greater number which drew opposition by the vast majority of people in Idaho. The wolves were successfully delisted in March of 2008 only to have them relisted two months later. We again achieved delisting in January 2009 only to be put on hold until the Nezperce tribe came out in support of delisting in February of that year. A final delisting decision was made in May of 2009, giving the state management of wolves. The Idaho Fish & Game established a wolf hunting season that began in Sept of 2009 with a limit of 220; the hunting resulted in about 180 wolves taken. The state management plan resulted in a leveling off of big game and domestic livestock loss to wolves and was the beginning of a plan to manage the explosive wolf population growth.
As we all know, and many studies verify, Elk and Moose are being decimated by the wolves, causing a significant negative economic impact on our outfitter and guide operations as well as the economy from lost retail sales of supplies, lodging, and licenses, tags, fuel and equipment that hunters purchase from our local businesses. Additionally, livestock including cows, horses, cattle, hunting dogs, and sheep continue to be destroyed by wolves. Pets are also threatened or killed if left unattended in wolf prone areas of our county.
Another significant event that affects livestock owners, the Defenders of Wildlife has discontinued their compensation program as of Sept 10 which is the deadline for claims and Sept 30 deadline for payment for claims of wolf kills. Their program paid 100% of confirmed wolf kills and 50% of probable kills. The State Office of Species Conservation has a base compensation fund of $100,000 to support compensation of lost livestock due to wolves. This year, an additional $140,000 was added to the fund. This increase of funding was one reason for the Defenders of Wildlife to drop their program. The reality is, $240,000 will not cover the statewide livestock loss and the additional state funding will not compensate for probable kills. The lost funding will be an economic hardship for livestock owners.
The Idaho County Commissioners have taken swift action on pushing our state and federal officials to act appropriately to manage wolves in Idaho County and our State.
The plea for help is in the hands of Governor Otter to mitigate this disaster. His action should be followed by Congressional action to exempt the wolf from the Endangered Species list to allow management by Idaho Fish and Game. We cannot wait for the courts to act which will take a year or two to resolve. It is my duty as your commissioner to work to ensure public safety for residents, their livelihood, and to protect the economy and other wild life resources. The unmanaged, unchecked growth of the wolf population endangers all of these things.