Let science, not politics determine wolves' fate

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As an organization based on grass roots citizens' advocacy for science-based wildlife management, Wolves of the Rockies is pleased to see the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation vowing to "intervene in support for science based wildlife management" and support for "better state management of wildlife, including predators." Toward that end, we fully expect the RMEF to join with us and all wildlife lovers who demand scientific rather than politically based wildlife management in opposing mass wolf killing programs and 7-9 month, no-quota wolf hunting seasons in portions of Idaho in which wolf predation is not adversely affecting elk populations. Currently, elk herds meet or exceed management objectives in 20 of 29 elk management zones, and provide hunting opportunities ranging from mature bulls to extra cow hunting opportunities to meet objectives. (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/bgElk.pdf)

We have no doubt that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation shares our outrage at the senseless slaughter of wolves in places like the Lolo, in which both independent and the Idaho Department of Game and Fish biologists scientifically determined that the natural ecological succession of previously excellent elk habitat created from fire burn areas back into mature spruce-fir forest that naturally support few elk - not wolf predation - is responsible for the massive decline in elk in that area.

We look forward to the RMEF raising their voices against the until-recently-secret Idaho state government policy of hiring professional trappers to wipe out entire long established wolf packs in the great Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and questioning the state's reasoning behind exceedingly long and quota-less wolf seasons, which extend well into the wolves' breeding and in some areas pupping seasons, even within elk management units of Idaho in which elk populations are at or above objectives. (IDFG Map on Elk Populations Objectives) http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/bgElk.pdf

Given that IDFG has not published a state wolf population count since the end of 2012 (with that year's wolf season still continuing unabated well past the end of 2012 estimate) and is scrambling to obtain data in the wake of so many radio-collared wolves being killed that any attempt at consistent scientific study is impossible, we are glad that RMEF has donated more than "$750,000 lifetime grants to advance the science of wolves" rather than simply advocating and financially supporting endless, limitless wolf killing schemes for wolf populations that are not even currently known.

As champions of wildlife conservation and lovers of all things wild, we know that RMEF cannot support the unscientific criteria of 15 breeding pairs of wolves or 150 individuals statewide, a clearly non-viable population of any animal for long-term conservation success, as the current measure of "wolf recovery," and that contrary to what some seem to believe, that wolves continuously and exponentially expand their populations regardless of how many are killed.

Most of all, we know that RMEF understands how many people have a great appreciation of wild wolves, with some expending a great deal of effort and finances on wolf watching, wolf photography, etc., and will demand state wolf management policies that take the needs and wants of such wildlife users into account. Mr. Allen's assurance that RMEF will fight for scientific wolf management, something quite contrary to the current wholesale slaughter and scapegoating of wolves currently passing as Idaho's wolf management, is a welcome declaration, and we at Wolves of the Rockies look forward to the cooperation of all conservation groups for the benefit of wolves, elk and all wildlife, here in Idaho, as well as in Montana, Wyoming, Michigan and nationwide.

Howard Goldstein is Northern Rocky Mountain adviser for Wolves of the Rockies. Email: Howard@WolvesoftheRockies.Org

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