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Conservation Groups Sue Federal Government over Idaho Wolf Killings

Five conservation groups are suing the federal government to stop the killing of wolves in Idaho until an environmental assessment is done. (deborahcat/iStockphoto)
Five conservation groups are suing the federal government to stop the killing of wolves in Idaho until an environmental assessment is done. (deborahcat/iStockphoto)
June 2, 2016

BOISE, Idaho – Five conservation groups filed suit in U.S. District Court in Boise on Wednesday to stop federal wildlife agents from killing wolves in Idaho until the federal government completes an environmental impact statement.

The complaint alleges that agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division killed 636 wolves in Idaho from 2006 to 2015, mainly to reduce predation on livestock and increase the number of elk.

Brooks Fahy, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Predator Defense, maintains the federal government is acting at the request of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which he says wants to supply more elk for hunters to kill.

"The elk are by no means in any type of jeopardy in the state of Idaho,” Fahy states. “And this is just driven by a small constituency of hunting and ranching interests. And it's not based in any type of science."

The complaint says Wildlife Services has targeted wolves in remote areas such as central Idaho's Lolo elk zone and the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness.

Fahy says the methods, which include traps, snares and aerial snipers, are cruel.

"Wolves are being chased down by helicopters until they can't run anymore,” he points out. “Entire packs of wolves until they virtually collapse. And they're just exhausted. And they're shot with shotguns from helicopters. It is incredibly brutal and grotesque."

Fahy maintains that the program is counter-productive because killing wolves causes packs to splinter, which results in more predatory behavior, not less.

The government has 60 days to respond to the complaint.


Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID