Howling mad

Pro-wolf people hold vigil, call for end to killings

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Kathy Stewart prepares to walk along Sherman Avenue from Independence Point during a vigil Monday organized by the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance. The vigil was held to honor 337 wolves killed in Idaho and Montana.

COEUR d'ALENE - Kathy Stewart calls her green van the "Wolfmobile."

She wears T-shirts and coats with pictures of wolves.

She says the wolf is her guardian.

So, the message she wanted to deliver to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on Monday about wolves was not surprising.

"Stop killing them."

"Get education about the wolf. Don't go out and kill it because you can," she said before a candlelight vigil at Independence Point.

Stewart, joined by husband Glen wearing his wolf T-shirt, was one of about 10 people who took part in the event organized by the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance.

They carried signs that read, "Exterminated, Endangered, Eradicated again," "No to wolf slaughter," and "The big bad wolf was framed."

One sign had a picture of a wolf, with the words, "Would you torture this?"

The vigil was "to honor 337 fallen Idaho and Montana wolves, and protest this war against wolves" on the night of "The Full Wolf Moon."

According to a press release, more than 200 of Idaho's wolves have been killed by hunters in four months.

"With IDFG's goal being to eliminate all but 150-200 wolves in the entire state, perhaps 400-500 wolves could still be in the crosshairs, and the season won't end until June 30 in some areas," the release said. "That means a 10-month long season, even hunting wolves while they are trying to raise their puppies."

Lanie Johnson of Sandpoint said wolves are critical to the ecosystem.

She said talk that wolves are dangerous to man, kill for sport and are decimating elk populations is "a myth that got started, that people have gone crazy with."

Wolves, Johnson said, are like people. They have families, they take care of their young, they stick together.

"They're very smart," she said.

Not so, said Ryan Caudill of Coeur d'Alene, who arrived at the vigil to protest the pro-wolf demonstration.

Caudill, who carried a sign that read, "Save an elk, kill a wolf," said he has found wolf kills while hunting. The Montana mule deer population has "dropped drastically" because of wolves, he said.

Wolves have killed hunting dogs, too, he said.

"We dog hunt, dogs die," he said.

Lloyd McLougihn debated the role of wolves with vigil participants Monday.

"Why do we want to listen to them about how wolves are so good?" he said.

He said the wolves in Idaho are from Canada, and far different from the population that once roamed the mountains.

"We don't want these wolves here - they eat all our animals," he said.

Ann Sydow, member of the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance, said the public needs to know how wolves are being hunted. They're being shot and trapped, she said, adding that trapping is cruel.

"I think if more people knew what was really happening, I think they would be really outraged," she said.

Sydow said wolves are not random killers of anything that comes their way.

She said out of 2.2 million cattle in Idaho last year, only 75 were killed by wolves. Bears and mountain lions are more likely to kill people, she said.

"They're by far the least dangerous predator out there," she said. "They're the most beneficial too. They don't see people as prey. They could kill a person. They just don't."

Glen Stewart said the bottom line is, people shouldn't kill wolves.

"If they're going to do anything, go out and learn from the wolf," he said.

IDFG spokesmen could not be reached for comment Monday.

Learn about wolves

n Jim Hayden, regional wildlife manager of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, will talk about the recent history and management of wolves in North Idaho at 7 tonight at Lutheran Church of the Master at a meeting of the Coeur d'Alene Chapter of the National Audubon Society. The public is welcome.

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