Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Officials offer $10,000 reward for wolf pup killings

June 20th, 2016 By: Stephan Rockefeller

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The following is a release from The Center for Biological Diversity.

VICTOR — The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for illegally killing wolf pups after removing them from their den in north Idaho’s Kootenai County, about 15 miles outside the city of Coeur d’Alene.

The pledge, along with an undisclosed reward offered by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, comes as Idaho officials are seeking leads in their criminal investigation of the poaching incident, which likely occurred the week of May 16, officials said.

“Pulling young wolf pups from their den and killing them is repulsive,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a staff attorney at the Center. “Coming on the heels of a protected grizzly bear being killed last month, it’s a stark reminder that Idaho’s still-recovering populations of big carnivores are at constant threat from poachers.”

Wolves are currently managed as big-game animals in Idaho, but there was no open hunting or trapping season for wolves at the time the pups were killed.

Fish and Game officers are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline, (800) 632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous.

“Sadly, these poaching incidents reflect what a growing body of research is making more and more clear — that allowing extensive hunting and trapping of wolves has not increased social tolerance for them, as the state predicted,” said Santarsiere. “Instead we’re seeing evidence that state-supported hunts of big carnivores actually devalue them among a certain segment of the population, and in fact likely trigger an increase in illegal killings.”

The federal monitoring program required by the Endangered Species Act after protections are removed expired last month. Poaching, along with continued state-sanctioned hunting and trapping, demonstrate why ongoing monitoring is crucial. In January the Center, along with four other conservation organizations, filed a petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend the monitoring period by an additional five years, and in March the organizations filed a notice of intent to sue the Service for failing to extend monitoring.

Idaho officials are continuing to seek information about last month’s grizzly bear poaching in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest near East Dry Creek, off the Yale-Kilgore Road in Island Park. Conservation officers concluded that the young grizzly bear had been dead a few weeks and did not die of natural causes. More than $15,000 in reward money is available for information leading to an arrest and conviction in that case.

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In March the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to remove Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone’s famed grizzly bears, paving the way for state-supported trophy hunts that are already being planned in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.