The Idaho governor has told state officials to no longer protect endangered gray wolves or investigate their deaths.
For the past couple of months I’ve been following the story of the gray wolf’s endangered status in the US northwest. The gray wolf was originally listed as an endangered species in 1974, and the species underwent a lengthy recovery process that involved introducing populations from Canada into the US.
Once the gray wolf population had started to stabilize, it was removed from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana, but remained listed in Wyoming. Hunters in the two delisted states started to hunt gray wolves again, but conservation groups sued the federal government claiming that delisting in some states and not in others was illogical and counterproductive.
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A federal judge concurred with their points and relisted the gray wolf as endangered in Idaho and Montana, prompting a lengthy legal battle between those states and the federal government. Both states have taken different stances, and have used different tactics to regain the right to hunt gray wolves, despite the fact they are endangered.
Negotiations between Idaho and the federal government have reached a low point and so Idaho Governor Butch Otter has ordered wildlife officials in the state to no longer protect wolves or investigate their deaths.
Throughout this ordeal, Governor Otter has seemed particularly emotionally invested in hunting wolves. His letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was combative and angry.
This most recent development seems like the executive branch’s version of holding its breath and stomping its feet.
Idaho’s hands-off policy towards gray wolves will undoubtedly result in hunters going out and shooting wolves in the interim before another body is charged with managing the wolves. If Montana – which is also looking for the right to hunt gray wolves – decides to take the same kind of uncooperative and pertinacious approach as Governor Otter, the situation may degenerate further.
And when things get bad, they always get worse for the animals.
Governor Butch Otter has shown himself to be a single-minded and stubborn man who refuses to cooperate with the proper legal processes involved in wildlife conservation and obviously believes that managing animals and shooting animals are one and the same.
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