Slaughtered Wolf Pups and Maimed Wolves in Idaho Demonstrate the Effects of Federal Delisting

Here’s a press release issued today by Western Watersheds Project. Keep in mind that much of what is taking place is happening on National Forest System lands and also within federally designated Wilderness areas. Blog readers may recall that in April we featured and discussed an oped written by Wilderness Watch titled, “Time for USFS to Curtail Idaho’s Wolf Slaughter in Wilderness Areas.” This is, unfortunately, what state management of native predators like wolves looks like in places like Idaho.

BOISE, Ida. – Newly obtained records from Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) reveal that between January and September 2020, recreational wolf hunters, the IDFG and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services killed 35 wolf pups and juveniles in Idaho, some weighing as little 16 pounds, and likely only four to six weeks old. The new records show that, in total, over 256 Idaho wolves have already been killed in Idaho in 2020—and the wolf hunting season, which runs for 11 to 12 months in much of the state, is not over yet.

Wolves in Idaho were removed from the Endangered Species list in 2011 by congressional decree, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that the removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection nation-wide is “very imminent.” The recent records from Idaho show what state wolf management really looks like, and it’s ugly.

“They are killing whole litters of nursing wolf pups,” said Talasi Brooks, Staff Attorney for Western Watersheds Project. “It just puts the lie to the narrative that IDFG is ‘managing’ the species.  What they are really promoting is slaughtering native predators for no other reason than Idaho’s anti-wolf, pro-ranching agenda. Putting wolf management in the hands of the states is a recipe for disaster.”

The records reveal the brutal effects of wolf trapping. One trapped wolf had only three legs with a trap still stuck on one leg. Two wolves had cracked teeth to the bone or shattered teeth trying bite traps. One wolf trapped by Wildlife Services in July died of hyperthermia, and one wolf was found dead in a private trap. A number of wolves were gunned down by Wildlife Services in “Aerial Control Actions.”

“The slaughter of wolf pups is cruel on its face, but these records are still more disturbing because they demonstrate the agony that even so-called nonlethal traps can cause,” said Brooks. “Idaho’s 72-hour trap check time leaves wolves and other animals to languish for days, causing intense suffering and gruesome deaths, and there’s just no excuse for such cruelty.”

About 400 wolves have been killed each year in Idaho for the past several years, and 2020 seems to be on track to set records. With only about 1,000 wolves in the state, this means about 40 percent of the wolf population is removed each year. This level of population disruption leads to population-level effects among wolves, including population decline, a younger, destabilized population, and ultimately more livestock conflicts.

“This is why wolves need to be listed and protected by the Endangered Species Act,” said Brooks. “Science needs to guide decision-making, not just state-by-state hostility towards native predators.”

IDFG is accepting comment on a proposal to further expand wolf-killing in Idaho by allowing wolves to be trapped near dead animal carcasses—reviving an effort to allow wolf-baiting that previously failed following overwhelmingly negative public comments.  Comment is due by September 23.

21 thoughts on “Slaughtered Wolf Pups and Maimed Wolves in Idaho Demonstrate the Effects of Federal Delisting”

  1. If killing wolves leads to “more livestock conflicts” and Idaho’s policies are about “supporting the livestock industry”, how do those things fit together?
    Just because they have been killing wolves and there is more depredation, it seems to me like it could work the other way… there has been more depredation, so they are killing more wolves.

    As an ungulate activist, I look at this quote “slaughtering native predators for no other reason than Idaho’s anti-wolf, pro-ranching agenda. Putting wolf management in the hands of the states is a recipe for disaster.” And I could paraphrase as “slaughtering native ungulates for no other reason than (name a state’s) anti-ungulate, pro-hunter agenda. Putting ungulate management in the hands of the state is a recipe for disaster.”

    FYI, I tend to be against inhumane traps for any critter.

  2. Remember, Hunting is Conservation, and any hunter is a defacto conservationist, a lot more so than some lawyer from Western Watersheds.

    Sounds like they need to kill a lot more wolves, if they were putting a dent in the population the numbers of yearly take would be less. I’ve read where Mech says to keep populations stable you need to be ready to cull 30 to 50 percent per year. Hopefully baiting will help success rates, it’s a lot better than poison. I’d hope Idaho will cull enough wolves that they’ll be easy to count, like double the current rate.

    I have to say, this article was only more propaganda, I mean without human culling wolves simply tear each other apart, “babies” and all, and those foothold traps were what was used to capture those huge Canadian wolves they imported in the first place. Why doesn’t Western Watersheds take up protesting or social distancing or climate action or something, it’s a new decade.

    • I was confused by this statement: “I’ve read where Mech says to keep populations stable you need to be ready to cull 30 to 50 percent per year.” Since wolf populations don’t need us to stabilize them, I assume you mean culling wolves is necessary to keep elk populations stable. While stable elk populations may be a state goal, it isn’t necessarily a national forest goal, even though most forest plans probably have a goal to meet state elk numbers. That may not be valid if those numbers exceed the natural range of variability for elk on that forest. For sure an artificially high elk population would not be a valid goal for wilderness areas (which has led to litigation, as discussed here:

    • Put a trap on your own foot and suffer just as much as the poor wolves idiot!Stop hurting animals and stop destroying nature.Nature never needed management.People need to be eliminated from the face of the earth.God will do so very soon….

      • Chris, wolves hurt animals too. Your idea of “eliminating people” sounds like you might be a Russian troll. I don’t know how you could know what’s in the mind of God. Are you a real person?

        • Yes I am.Why do people think they have the power over animals.And yes,wolves hurt animals but they do this to survive.People hurt and kill because they are arrogant money loving morons probably just like you

        • Russian troll?No dumbass,just a Dutch animal rights fighter.You hillbillies think you should manage everything but nature was doing fine before you got there.Wolves were there first and yes they hurt animals to eat and survive.People hurt animals out of greed love for money and arrogance.

            • Sorry Sharon.Forgive me.But I hope you understand that I think wildlife deserves better than to be persecuted and tortured.

          • So why on this Western Hemisphere, which you are not part of, do you even think you have a voice to be so arrogant and knowledgeable about what “hillbillies” are or what “we” believe?
            You have the wrong forum here to be making such ridiculous and down right stupid comments. Go away!!! We tend to shy away from such silliness like your comments. Help us out here….please.

      • This so much sounds like Russian bot. How on Earth do you feel your comment about people should be extinct is good for the environment? And how the hell do you know what God is going to do to make us extinct?

    • They killed 400 wolves last year and claim that they are on track this year. The trail cams they have out in the wilderness does a population count and the count was put at 1,000 which if they kill 400 this year it will leave 600 wolves. If the count is another 400 in 2021 that means they will only leave 200 wolves. GUESS WHAT HAPPENS THEN THE WOLVES GET RELISTED FEDERALLY IF THE COUNT GOES DOWN TO THAT AND THE HUNTERS WILL BE BACK TO WHERE THEY CAN’T TOUCH THEM. The Canadian wolves that were used in Colorado.

  3. States or feds reimburse ranchers for depredation losses, don’t they? How much is spent on eradication programs vs simply paying a rancher? As for wolves killing each other; yes, sure they do. That doesn’t seem like a good and reasonable justification for slaughtering them, in lieu of allowing natural processes to balance pack populations. My simplistic view is that our environment is far richer WITH wolves than without. We need policies with science, intelligence, and compassion. Go back and read Leopold’s confession about thoughtlessly killing a wolf, then kneeling and watching a “fierce green fire” die in it’s eyes. He changed in that instant forever, and his reckoning was a gift to all of us . . . if we listen. Like people, wolves are good but also occasionally do “bad things” (our value system). Can’t we accommodate wolves somehow without “needing to” eliminate 50% every year?

    • Thanks for posting this Jon.

      And, gee whiz, Sharon, you mean the Idaho Department of Fish and Game doesn’t follow or support science-based “management” that doesn’t fit its agenda, especially when it comes to killing native predators?

      Let’s not forget that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game supports, encourages and allows bear ‘hunters’ to bait/lure unsuspecting black bears with piles of garbage and human foods left in the woods, including in designated Wilderness areas within the range of grizzly bears.

      Also, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a single individual in Idaho can now kill up to 30 wolves annually, including deep within Wilderness areas.

      • Looks like Idaho is just begging for Federal intervention regarding their ignorance, bad behaviour and crimes against nature and the environment.
        Start by taking their guns and follow up with Court and Jail time for all the corrupt heading up and allowing these murders.

  4. It is a crime in America to hurt and abuse animals,which is a very good thing,but those laws appearently don’t count for wild animals.Hunters and ranchers dominate politics and that is destructive for wildlife.If this doesn’t change soon especially wolves are going extinct in the US again because with only about 6000 of them left and no protection by law anymore and hundreds of taggs sold every year by trophy hunters and hunted severely by states like Idaho and Montana they don’t stand a chance.So why did they reintroduced them back in 95?What an outrageous move by your so called Wildlife Service.The best “service”to give to wild animals is to leave them alone.Nature thrives and manages itself when you just let it be.But people just enjoy killing.Let them be honest about that and stop lying to the public that wolves kill too much livestock.Every sane person respects life but every insane person kills for pleasure.Even predators like wolves don’t kill for sport or pleasure.They kill only to survive.You can call me what you want here but if you don’t like my comments that’s fine.It’s just my opinion.


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