Caribou, wolves and money - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Caribou, wolves and money

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Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2012 5:00 am

A comment in an article, Spokesman Review, June 22, 2012 entitled "Idaho Senators oppose expanded Caribou habitat” really hit a sore spot with me and I'm sure with many others. Mr. Brad Smith of the Idaho Conservation League stated, "I think that it's unfortunate that people aren't working together to find real solutions," referring to the possible designation of 375,562 acres of North Idaho forest as critical habitat for Caribou.

Let me go back to 1983 when several environmental groups asked for support for their Caribou recovery program. Many people I knew supported it, as I did. It seemed like a good course of action. Ten years into the program the gains in numbers were minuscule at best and at a tremendous cost. I can't quote actual costs because, it seems, no one knows how much was spent. The lack of success caused many people to question the intelligence of investing more funding for a failing program.

The Federal Government was involved through the Endangered Species Act, which probably did not help matters. In the 1990s, these same groups of environmentalists introduced the infamous Gray Wolf caper. It's interesting that I don't recall any group of environmentalists working with the farmers, ranchers or sportsmen groups on this project. The whole program was forced on the three states whether we wanted it or not. I can understand why the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Game and the Endangered Species people were all for it. It's called lifetime benefits and secure employment.

A problem was, much of the funding was spent needlessly because of redundancy of similar state jobs. What irritated many people was the fact that there were an estimated 60,000 Gray Wolves in North America at the time. There was no reason to list them as endangered. Gray Wolves now inhabit the same area as the few Woodland Caribou and that alone is a disaster for the Caribou. Do they really think that wolves don't eat caribou?

So, here is where we are. A huge amount of funding has been spent on the Caribou recovery program. The herd has increased from (2) in 1983 to (4) in 2012. The Gray Wolf has increased to a point that it is a predator out of control.

Environmental groups are pushing for more wolves and refuse to admit their mistake, nor will they work with others to control their numbers. Why are these environmental groups so hell bent on perpetuating a program that has not and will not work? If Mr. Smith’s group and others like it want support as they say, then present some sensible ideas. Obviously they have no expertise in game management whatsoever.

If you need ideas, try this on for size. Take the millions of dollars you intend to spend on multiple lawsuits, attorneys, influencing government employees etc. Present a suggestion to Washington State University to start a captive breeding program for Woodland Caribou. Get young people involved in future programs that will benefit the Caribou.

One last thing. Entice a Caribou expert from Finland, Norway or Sweden to come to the university to share the knowledge they already have. This might be the only way to preserve this species. Designating 375,000 acres of critical habitat for Caribou and Wolves is not the answer. Maybe 30 years down the road, but not now.

Dennis Johnson is a Hayden Lake resident.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • fiepie posted at 7:14 pm on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    fiepie Posts: 2775

    We shut most of the lumber mills down because people complained about the noise, odor, traffic, smoke, etc.
    Whom do you think would buy the logs?
    I would love to see the lumber mills come back but where could we put them without someone screaming.
    Would like to see the refineries come back but again, "not in my back yard".
    As for the wolves eating the caribou...they ain't done it yet. Neither have the grizzlies. So, do we kill the last couple....not "thousands"...these are woodland caribou, different from the caribou up north.
    Removing motorized recreation would be a good idea but then most of us can't remember how to walk even through Wallyworld.
    With "animal agriculture" a rancher can tie up a few or many thousand acres for a pittance per acre off to hunters, fishermen, campers, etc or charge these a fee for stepping on "their" property.

  • searchingfortruth posted at 9:02 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    searchingfortruth Posts: 35

    Wake up People! it's not about saving the Caribou; its about control of federal lands. There are tens of thousands of these critters up north. The environmental movement has made great inroads over the years to restricting use on federal lands even in cases like this that make no sense. Think about it; Why waste millions of taxpayer money to save a couple caribou that are going to be eaten by wolves anyway.

    Look at the big picture. Very little timber is taken off federal land anymore and this has resulted in massive diseased and bug infested stands of timber that are burning up all over the West which makes no sense. The enviros are litigating continuously when the Forest Service tries to harvest timber and manage its lands!!!! They are also litigating to remove animal agriculture from the federal lands. Removing motorized recreation is their next goal.

    This is bigger than trees, caribou, sage grouse, and big horn sheep.

  • uncle fester posted at 9:00 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2012.

    uncle fester Posts: 831

    Dennis I would question your facts and figures. We get the fact you hate wolves but having meetings with farmers and ranchers about re-introduction? Gee I wonder what they would have said. ? 60,000 nationwide? Really? Of course wolves have to eat something but you didnt mention elk or deer populations,which have got to be huge with the mild winters. I know you would rather see a deer hit a car then get eaten by a wolf but some of us do not.

  • local res posted at 10:59 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1157

    If we cant use the public lands there is no need for the forest service. Close the department and let the land be taken care of by nature. Fire bugs and all the rest.

  • Idaho Roper posted at 9:52 am on Sat, Jun 30, 2012.

    Idaho Roper Posts: 117

    Oh how the logical truth hurts. Just imagine the thought process it takes to believe that a caribou that has been struggling for 50+ years was going to somehow rebound as they implemented a wolf recovery area AND a grizzly bear recovery area in the exact same habitat.

    It seems the fairytale of 'natural balance' is rearing it's ugly head and exposing it for the fraud it really is. Dennis hit the nail squarely on the head.

  • fiepie posted at 7:02 am on Sat, Jun 30, 2012.

    fiepie Posts: 2775

    Being the caribou migrate back and forth between USA and Canada one can't help but imagine some of the wolves also have crossed the border, whether legal or illegal.
    Based on that one wonders why, as long as wolves eat caribou, there are any at all. One would also have to believe that the wolves have shared the same territory as the caribou long before the re- intoduction of wolves began.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 5:36 am on Sat, Jun 30, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Excellent Dennis, well written, and accurate.
    Environazis need to return to Cali.
    Joseph (P) Idaho

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