Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Idaho Aiming to Kill Wolves in the Wilderness....Again



“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions ...”   ~ The Wilderness Act of 1964's definition of "wilderness"

According to  Idaho's predator management plan for the Middle Fork Elk Zone, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is at it again.  The newly released plan reflects Idaho's aim to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork area of central Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  Why?  All in the interest of inflating elk populations for outfitters and recreational hunters.

This comes just weeks after IDFG hired a professional hunter-trapper to pack into the states 2.4-million-acre wilderness area to eradicate two wolf packs for the same purpose. In response to this unprecedented move, a coalition of conservationists, represented by the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice, asked a federal judge in Idaho to halt the agencies’ wolf eradication plan.  When the U.S. District Judge for Idaho denied the plaintiffs’ case, the conservationists took their fight to the court of appeals and soon thereafter IDFG temporarily halted the program until the end of June 2014.   A bittersweet reprieve, since nine wolves had already been killed.

Earthjustice will be filing its opening brief later this week in the Ninth Circuit proceeding. Earthjustice is representing the original plaintiffs: long-time Idaho wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan, along with Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and Center for Biological Diversity in the case.

Statement from attorney Tim Preso of Earthjustice: “The state of Idaho has made clear that it intends to double down on its plan to transform the Middle Fork area of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness from a naturally regulated wilderness to an elk farm benefiting commercial outfitters and recreational hunters. The only thing that is not clear is whether the U.S. Forest Service will step up to defend the wilderness character of this landscape on behalf of all the American people or instead will, as it has done to date, let Idaho effectively run the area to advance its own narrow interest in elk production. For our part, we intend to do everything we can to obtain a federal court ruling that will require the Forest Service to protect this special place and its wildlife."

The U.S. Forest Service administers the wilderness.  Please consider contacting the Chief of the Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, at ttidwell@fs.fed.us to remind the federal agency that:
  • Our nation’s wilderness areas are places for wildlife to remain as wild as is possible in today’s modern world.
  • Our nation’s wilderness areas are meant to be governed by natural conditions, not special interest groups.
Please be sure to tell Mr. Tidwell this is not just an issue for one Idaho wilderness area, but the U.S. Wilderness System.
Thank you and please follow the Wildlife News for updates.

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