Sunday, August 2, 2015

Northern Idaho judge affirms wolf center suspension

The Associated PressJuly 31, 2015 

— A northern Idaho judge has affirmed an Idaho agency's one-year license suspension of a Cocolalla-based wolf exhibition company.

Second District Court Judge Jay Gaskill on Wednesday concluded that Wolf People violated a 2012 consent agreement by allowing guests to have direct contact with captive wolves, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported ( "I'm sure I will fight this," Wolf People founder Nancy Taylor said Friday. "It's a very unfair and uncalled for decision."

Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore signed the suspension in February, but Wolf People challenged the decision. Attorney Arthur Bistline, who represented Wolf People, argued that the consent agreement didn't prohibit people from touching wolves, and that Taylor was securing a bond when Fish and Game started the license suspension action.

Bistline also contended that Wolf People faced a criminal sanction in violation of Taylor's right to due process. But Gaskill said the action against Wolf People was administrative, and that Taylor was provided due process through the administrative license proceedings.

Fish and Game sought to resolve 43 license agreements with the consent agreement. They included guests touching wolves, failing to report the births and deaths of wolves, transporting them without permission and failing to report wolf escapes in 2012. A hearings officer later concluded that Wolf People violated the agreement.

Taylor said she believes she's being targeted because Fish and Game officials don't like wild wolves in Idaho so they're also going after her captive wolves. She says there are currently 24 adults and one pup at the exhibition. "My organization shows the beautiful, loving, intelligent side of wolves — just the opposite of what Fish and Game shows," she said.

She said she'd have to speak with her attorney before deciding her next move. If the yearlong suspension goes into effect, she said she's not sure she would be able to hold out that long financially.
"I'm very disappointed in our justice system," she said.