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Capital Press Editorial: 21 senators show their wolf management expertise

November 4, 2021

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 help.

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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