Friday, May 13, 2016

No professional wolf hunters from Fish and Game in Frank Church Wilderness

By Jake Melder KIVI - Boise, ID

In a non-descript letter to the USDA Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game said they won't use their resources to manage wolf populations in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Fish and Game won't pay people to hunt wolves in the Central Idaho wilderness area due to a pending lawsuit. It won't stop hunters with legal tags from harvesting the top predators, but it will mean fewer animals are taken out of the area. It's a victory for conservation groups.

"We don't think that Fish and Game should be doing predator control in the wilderness," said Ken Cole, Idaho Coordinator for the Western Watersheds Project.

Ron Gillett, an outfitter in Stanley and outspoken opponent of the wolf rehabilitation program says the inaction will have deep consequences.

"That's really going to hurt the elk population in there, the bighorn sheep population and the mule deer population," he said.

Conservationists won't disagree, but say a natural order needs to be established. Cole says there’s room for hunters, elk, and wolves. Gillett says that’s wishful thinking.

"How can you have a balance when you have this killer that kills everything? And don't tell me they only eat the weak the sick and the old, that's bull****"

This is just the latest in a long debate over wolf management. According to Fish and Game, the wolf population has gone from an estimated 684 in 2013 to 770 in 2014. It’s a good trend for those who want to see the wolf make a comeback, but a concerning one for Gillett.

"Fish and Game needs to stand up for the people of Idaho and for the big game of Idaho,” he said.
Wolf hunting is active in most of the state right now. Fish and Game restricts individual hunters to no more than five tags per calendar year.

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