The US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program recently killed eight wolf pups on federal public lands in Idaho. Conservation groups and a representative of Timberline High School—named after one of the affected packs—sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for an immediate end to further killing of wolf pups on Forest Service lands. In response, the department claimed the action was “humane” and necessary to protect livestock—without indicating whether any nonlethal measures had been attempted first.
The news followed on the heels of legislation that went into effect in Idaho this summer further liberalizing wolf killing across the state. Among other changes, the new law legalized wolf trapping on private property year-round, authorized individuals to purchase an unlimited number of wolf licenses, and increased funding available for lethal wolf control, including for private contractors—effectively financing a statewide wolf bounty program. The changes were designed to eradicate about 90 percent of Idaho’s wolf population. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has since initiated a status review to determine whether federal protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana should be reinstated.