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Vicious predators devastate herds and must be removed from Idaho

Source: Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 02-12-2006

Ron Gillett grew up in Hailey on a ranch. A former teacher and coach, he entered the outfitting business in the 1970s. He owns 21/2 acres west of Stanley with 10 log cabins. He leads summer trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and fall hunting trips. He also heads the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, which hopes to collect nearly 48,000 signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot to rescind Idaho's wolf plan and abolish the state's Office of Species Conservation. "Some people think I'm this outfitter sitting up here in Stanley that wants to shoot anything that moves," Gillett said. "Our logo says, 'Dedicated to the preservation of the big game herds of Idaho, both for hunting opportunities and for viewing."

Do you support or oppose the Interior Department's proposal to take gray wolves off the endangered-species list in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming? Why?

Delisting is never going to happen in Idaho. The environmentalists are never going to let it happen.

This is an exotic species. It was never native here. Across Idaho, if you went out and asked people how they feel about wolves, you would be shocked at how badly people want these wolves out of here. They're furious. They're just sick of this mutilation, this devastation. The Canadian wolf is the most cruel, vicious predator in North America.

Once these wolves are dumped into an ecosystem, they kill everything. They hunt 365 days a year, and they only hunt red meat.

Wolves above I-90 supposedly come down from Canada and are covered by the Endangered Species Act. The wolves dumped on us below I-90 are in a different classification. They're classified as nonessential or experimental. If there's a problem, they can be relocated or shot. The first choice of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been relocation: Take a problem wolf from one area and move him to another, where he becomes a problem for somebody else.

We have the research and the facts to show how and why the wolves should be removed immediately. If we can't get this to court because of all the little roadblocks the environmentalists put up, I'm afraid there will be civil disobedience. I don't support that. My group doesn't support that. But I'm afraid it's going to happen.

In fall, until the first of November, we really depend on hunters filling our cabins. In the past, a lot of those have been out-of-state hunters. Normally we have 30-some, maybe 40-some. This year I had five. That's just me. The rest of the town would be going along with the same ratio. The out-of-state hunters are so disillusioned with their hunting opportunities here, they're just not coming now. Why? Because the wolves are killing the elk and the deer.

No promises have ever been carried out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Idaho regarding the dumping of wolves in Idaho. Congress promised: One, local economies would not be hurt. Two, big-game hunting would not be affected. Three, they'd monitor packs, take care of problem wolves. That has not happened.

It hurts the tourism industry, the little mom-and-pop motels and restaurants. People don't want to come up here into the Stanley Basin and have to sit up all night with guns keeping wolves away from their kids. You may think that's far out, but it isn't.

My heart is just in the ground here. I'm not going to get down to two head of elk in the Stanley Basin just because some wolf lovers want to hear them howl. I'm sick and tired of Suzanne Stone saying these are cuddly little puppies that just want to be petted.

Do you trust Idaho to manage the state's wolf populations? Why or why not?

No. The Idaho Legislature has been against this wolf dumping from day one. That's why they passed House Joint Memorial 5 in 2001. Out of 105 legislators, 100 of them voted for HJM5, which calls for the immediate removal of the Canadian gray wolf from Idaho. Two of those five are left-wing environmentalists from Sun Valley and the other three were sleeping.

We're not happy with the governor and his Office of Species Conservation. We do not believe they've put any effort into handling this wolf problem. I'm not trying to start a war with the governor, but he has not put effort into solving this.

We have been adamant, and we have never changed our objective: to remove wolves from Idaho. There's no way to manage the gray wolf in Idaho because of the terrain and topography. We have the roughest terrain in the lowest 48. In Alaska, they've been successful in aerial hunting. You can't do that down here. There's too much cover. The country's too rough.

Wolves follow elk herds and kill the young ones in spring. The government owes us for all these animals being killed by this land piranha they dumped on us.

Do you support Idaho Fish and Game's proposal to kill wolves in north-central Idaho to help declining elk herds and why?

Absolutely. In the department they were split: people for wolves, people against. Now even the ones for wolves are seeing what we have said all along is true. We think they're going in the right direction.

At Idaho Fish and Game, the light finally came on. They saw what the wolves were doing to the elk in the Clearwater. They wanted to thin them out. Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife is ready to file a lawsuit if they kill one wolf. They don't want management. They don't want something realistic for the big game. All they want is wolves.

We're not just a bunch of Aryan Nation wolf-killers. We're concerned about our wildlife. The wolves are here. The overzealous Fish and Wildlife Service, and their friends in Defenders of Wildlife, brought them in and dumped them on us.



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