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Wolves To Be Shot from Helicopters

Wolves To Be Shot from Helicopters

The Idaho Fish and Game Department plans to use gunners from helicopters to shoot wild wolves in the north central Lolo zone – a remote area where so far six wolves have been killed by hunters.

The reason stated for their interest in killing more wolves there is a decline in local elk populations, which is being blamed in part on the wolves. You might think the elk population must be getting very low to kill wolves for eating elk, but actually the number of elk in Idaho has been estimated at about 100,000. Also, in some areas Idaho elk have been reported to be increasing in numbers.

It has also been acknowledged that the degradation of elk habitat has played a role in the population decline, along with predation from mountain lions and deaths from human hunters. The question no one seems to have an answer to is: what is the greatest contributor to the  elk decline?

Research conducted in two areas of the Smoky Mountain region found five percent of the resident female elk population was killed by wolves in one location, but just one percent were killed in another. So how likely is it wolves are the main cause of an elk decline in Lolo?

Consider also that the state of Idaho allows hunters to kill many elk each year:  in 2009 almost 16,000 Idaho elk were taken by hunters. So it seems a little peculiar to blame wolves for the elk decline and then kill them, when scores of elk are killed by humans regularly.  Also, who is to say illegal poaching of elk in the Lolo area is not taking place? Or what of the fact climate change could be altering seasonal vegetation in Lolo, and therefore is reducing the amount of food sources for elk?

Another problem – doesn’t the fact wolf hunters this year have only been able to kill six wolves in the Lolo Zone, and that hunting them from helicopters is believed to be necessary, suggest there might not be very many wolves there at all?

It is possible human activity in the form of land development is contributing to an overall elk decline by converting wild lands into shopping centers and residential districts, “…but the most lasting damage is done by the jaws of subdivisions and mini-malls devouring habitat.” (Source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) Admitting humans have played a role and continue to do so in the elk decline, would undermine and maybe even permanently dismiss the rationale for blaming and killing so many wolves. Additionally, notice there is no mention of the fact Idaho’s human population grew 21% from 2000 to 2010. The town of Meridian grew 115% from 2000 – 2010.

Perhaps the governor of Idaho summed up the general attitude towards wolves there when he said, “Actually we didn’t want them here at all.” (Source: gov.idaho.gov)

There’s a big problem with that view though. Wolves were there first (though the current ones were re-introduced) and deserve to have their own habitat. They also have a right to live just as much as all the other species on the planet.

Image Credit: Public Domain, WikiCommons

Related Links
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Most Endangered Wolves Get Stamp

 

Read more: Environment, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Wildlife

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143 comments

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3:43PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

Leave wolves alone. Killing them from helicopters is simply incredibly cowardly and unfair.

3:44AM PDT on Jul 21, 2012

Idaho officials/bounty hunters (cowards) - uneducated stupid human beings. These kind of people will never listen to scientific facts, they think they know better. Disgraceful behavior. We all need to keep up our fight against this targeted cruelty to these incredibly beautiful, intellingent and loving creatures.

11:27AM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

You can tell a lot about a government by how they treat the nation’s animals. All animals should be equally protected whether they are a pet or not.

6:31AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

unbelievable! sick.

7:54AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

The governor of Idaho is totally ignorant & heartless.

4:09PM PST on Jan 22, 2012

how about we get rid of the hunters, developers and goverment officials who support this disgusting proposition

1:54PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

That's humanity for you!

7:08AM PST on Jan 12, 2012

hunters can cite all the reasons they want to attempt to justify what they do but when it comes right down to it the only reason anyone chooses to hunt is because they enjoy the act of killing - and that is just sick.

11:17PM PST on Dec 30, 2011

so killing wolf's because they kill elk is the reason for killing them/?

so kill the humans that kill elk... ...... end of wolf killing. :)

5:02AM PST on Dec 30, 2011

Idaho officials are SICK, DEMENTED, individuals. You have no respect for wolves or any wildlife. STOP.... Ignorant, also you are. Cowards with guns. You should be placed on the ground; chased and shot at with guns. SHAME ON YOU!!!!

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