A curious elk looks at a Basin Butte male wolf known as "Red" on
an April Spring day. The Basin Butte wolves, if they can survive and
if they can be protected, could bring much-needed tourism dollars to
the Stanley area in the winter and spring months. Now, the pack is
at great risk of elimination because of conflicts with cattle during
summer and fall; Sierra Club members from Boise watch the antics
of some Basin Butte wolves; Phantom Hill wolf pup, May 2008; "Lassie
Wolf" belongs to a Central Idaho pack.
All Wolves section
Lynne K. Stone, Boulder-White Clouds Council, copyright 2008
(unless otherwise noted). No photos may be reproduced or used in any
way without written permission from BWCC.
UPDATE 2009 through 2012
2012 - We are sorry to report that Idaho's war on wolves continues relentlessly. In 2011-12, 378 wolves were shot or trapped/snared by wolf hunters. Over a hundred more were killed by Wildlife Services, a misnamed federal agency that shoots predators on behalf of cattle and sheep ranchers. Half of the state's wolves were killed by Governor Butch Otter's hate campaign toward the majestic wolf from April 1, 2011 to April 1, 2012. Details here: http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2012/05/07/wolf-mortality-in-idaho-a-final-toll-48-59-percent-of-idaho-wolves-killed-in-one-year/
Many people are boycotting Idaho products and canceling their vacation plans to Idaho now that trapping and snaring have become the primary methods to kill wolves. It's simply not safe to be hiking, xc skiing or camping in many areas now, especially if you have dogs or small children.
2009-2010 - HEARTBREAKING YEARS FOR IDAHO'S WOLVES - once delisted from Federal protection, hunters shot 187 wolves in Idaho's first wolf hunt and over 100 wolves were killed by government agents because of the cattle and sheep industry. Included in the mortality was the entire Basin Butte Pack near Stanley, ordered killed by IDFG during Thanksgiving week 2009. The Phantom Pack near Ketchum was decimated in the 2009-10 wolf hunting season and no longer exists.
2011 - GOVERNOR OTTER'S WOLF SLAUGHTER IS UNDERWAY - On August 30th, Idaho launched a 7-month war on wolves, allowing wolf hunters to purchase FOUR wolf tags for the hunt (two in 2011 & two in 2012). Trapping & snaring seasons start in November & go through June in some zones. Trappers can kill up to TEN wolves. Wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness are especially under attack because of pressure from big game outfitters and guides.
Idaho had about 1000 wolves as of June 1st, 300 of them were pups. Most of the wolves killed to date (Oct 1, 2011) have been four-month old wolf puppies or yearlings (subadults). This jihad on wolves is happening because politicians, ranchers & big game outfitters do not like wolves or want wolves in our state. The Idaho Wolf Management Plan calls for only 150 wolves or ten breeding pairs.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Call 208-334-2100, Idaho Governor Butch Otter's office and leave a message, protesting the wolf hunt and speaking up on behalf of wolves. Warning - the person answering the phone may be hostile if you like wolves.
Call 202-225-5531, Rep. Mike Simpson's office in D.C. and say you support wolves. Simpson added an anti-wolf rider to the 2011 House Budget Bill, a rider that stripped wolves of any protection. This opened the door for the killing of nearly all of Idaho's wolves down to a 150 animals.
Wolves in the Crosshairs
Wolves in the northern
Rockies had a tumultuous year as they were
delisted from the Endangered
Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and
handed over to the control of the states (Idaho, Wyoming and Montana). A
fall wolf hunting season was declared by the highly-politicized Idaho
Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), that
would allow "harvest" of
up to 426 wolves by year’s end, or over half of the state’s 800 wolves.
Then, on July 18, wolves
got a break. Federal Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula, Montana, issued a
decision that said the delisting plan would harm wolves, and granted a
temporary injunction to stop delisting. [Link to TIMELINE July 18] This
halted IDFG's aggressive wolf hunt for the fall of 2008. In September,
USFWS withdrew its delisting
proposal, realizing that it would not stand up in court.
PHOTO: Two Phantom Hill pups stare at a hiker that walked by them.
These pups are lucky to be born next to the most pro-wolf
communities in Idaho.
Then, in late October,
USFWS repackaged its skewed plan,
that's now on a fast track to be finalized before a new D.C.
administration takes over in January 2009. Earthjustice, on behalf of 12
conservation groups, successfully sued to stop delisting in 2008, and will
sue again in 2009, if necessary.
Wolves are not really
safe though, and are being killed because of an
ESA provision called the 10(j)
Rule. In 2008, the 10(j) rule was modified to the extent that
wolves have almost no protection at all. An example: a rancher does not
have to try nonlethal methods to scare off wolves. A rancher can now shoot
a wolf, and then claim it was chasing, molesting or harassing his cattle
or sheep, or guard dogs. Agency control actions have been harsh in 2008.
As of December 31st, 94 wolves had been killed in Idaho by order of the
IDFG. This number does not include dozens of wolf
pups that starved to death in April and May, after their mothers were
shot. Earthjustice is also planning litigation to change the
PHOTO: An adult male Galena wolf seen near Stanley.
Sometimes the territory of the Basin Butte Pack and Galena Pack
overlaps. The wolves are related and get along as the Basin Butte's
alpha female, B171, was a Galena Pack wolf.
Update on our local wolves: A
difficult year for the Basin Butte and Galena Packs; a deadly year for
Buffalo Ridge and East Pass Packs
For many Idaho wolves, 2008
was a bad year. One reason: At times, the IDFG and many livestock
producers barely put forth any effort to deter or scare wolves away from
cattle and sheep. The exception was the Phantom Hill Pack near Ketchum.
Read more about the Phantoms.
Among the 94 wolves that have been
killed in control actions ordered by IDFG in 2008, were up to
eight Basin Butte wolves from the well-known pack around Stanley. Only a
concerted hazing effort by wolf supporters kept the entire Basin Butte
Pack from being killed. Read more
about the Basin Butte wolves.
Galena Pack - The
summer and fall was grim in the Sawtooth Valley for the Galena wolves.
Two, maybe three Galena Pack wolves were shot, and six more would have
been, but escaped. Unless ranchers try harder to learn to live with
wolves, the Galena Pack will go the way of the Stanley Pack, which was
lost in 2000. Read more about the
SNRA and Wolves - For visitors, who were hiking, mountain biking,
fishing and camping in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), the
sight and sound of aerial gunning of wolves from government airplanes and
helicopters (paid for by taxpayers dollars), added a new, unpleasant, and
twisted meaning to the word "recreation". Steel leg hold traps are also
used to catch and kill wolves. On the SNRA, wildlife is supposed to have
precedence over livestock, but obviously doesn't. The SNRA portion that's
located in Custer County, such as the Sawtooth Valley and Stanley Basin,
is a throwback to a 100 years ago when cattle barons ruled the West. In
Custer County, cattlemen still do. They are aided by wealthy landowners,
some who only spend a few weeks or months on their hobby "ranch", and
lease land for cattle grazing so that their property taxes are greatly
Buffalo Ridge Pack - This was Idaho's most visible wolf pack for
many years. They lived along the Salmon River area near Squaw Creek, and
also at times in the northeastern White Clouds. The pack was killed in
February 2008. This did not have to happen.
Read a photo essay about the Buffalo
Pass Creek Pack & East Fork Salmon River - The Pass Creek Pack,
named for one of the wildest drainages in the White Clouds, was also
killed in 2008 because of conflicts with cattle in the East Fork of the
Salmon River. The East Fork is a natural travel corridor in the White
Cloud Mountains for wolves and many other wildlife species. It provides
critical winter range for deer and elk. But at present, the private and
public land is dominated by a few cattle ranchers. In addition to the Pass
Creek Pack, the White Cloud (five wolves in Spring 2000) and Whitehawk
Pack (10 wolves in Spring 2002) have also been destroyed in the East Fork
Salmon River area.
Read more about the
Pass Creek wolves and view photos of the East Fork Salmon River area.
LOOK AT A TIMELINE
OF AGENCY WOLF ACTIONS