Capital Press Editorial: 21
senators show their wolf management expertise
Pardon us if we stifle a yawn in
response to a letter 21 U.S. senators penned the other day.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and
Michigan Sen. Gery Peters led the letter-writing campaign
asking Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to protect gray wolves
from being hunted for about eight months. The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, which is a part of the Interior
Department, is already reviewing the status of wolves in the
West. The senators just fret, needlessly, that a lot of
wolves will be killed in the meantime.
Judging from the language of the
letter, one would think wolves were again on the verge of
extermination. In reality, their problem was with states
such as Idaho and Montana, which have plenty of wolves.
For example, Idaho has about 1,500
wolves. The total harvest of wolves during each of the past
two years was about 500, but the populations have rebounded
both years to 1,500. Reproduction is a specialty of wolves.
The Capital Press reported last summer
that the Idaho Fish and Game Commission established wolf
seasons from Nov. 15 to March 31 on public land in 43
hunting units where elk are below population objectives or
where there is a history of chronic livestock depredation.
It left unchanged all other wolf hunting and trapping
seasons on public land. Idaho has 99 hunting units.
That hardly sounds like wolves will be
eradicated or anything close to it. In fact, that sounds a
lot like prudent management of a predator.
Similarly, Montana, which has about
1,100 wolves, has been adjusting its wolf seasons to avoid
conflicts with other protected species. A total of 38 wolves
have been harvested this fall, according to the state’s Fish
and Wildlife Commission.
Yet the wolf experts in the U.S.
Senate want the hunting stopped.
“If continued unabated for this
hunting season, these extreme wolf eradication policies will
result in the death of hundreds of gray wolves and will
further harm federally protected ecosystems like
Yellowstone,” the senators wrote, referring to three wolves
that were killed outside the park in Montana.
The other authors were Patrick Leahy,
D-Vt.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.;
Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Jacky
Rosen, D-Nev.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Alex Padilla, D-Calif.;
Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii; Chris
Van Hollen, D-Md.; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Tammy Duckworth,
D-Ill.; Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev.; Elizabeth Warren,
D-Mass.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii;
Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and Ed Markey, D-Mass.
You’ll note that, with the exception
of Upper Michigan, none of the states they represent has a
significant number of wolves. We suspect the purpose of the
letter was more to curry favor with environmental groups
than to protect wolves, which, by the way, are doing just
fine. They continue to spread across the West without any
Here’s an idea. We propose the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service deliver 200 wolves to each of the
states those senators represent. Send 200 each to New
Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, California, Ohio, Illinois,
Nevada, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland.
And don’t forget about Hawaii.
Let’s just see how that works.
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