Advocating for Wolves in Idaho

Gray wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I recently testified before the Idaho Fish and Game Commission opposing proposals to increase wolf-killing and allow glorified wolf baiting in Idaho.  I pointed out that since the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) does not have a wolf population estimate based on radio collar data and aerial surveys, increasing wolf killing does not reflect science-based management.

And, I reminded the Commission that it rejected a similar proposal to allow wolf baiting after overwhelming public opposition in 2017.  I also spoke in favor of restricting body-gripping Conibear traps, which can be lethal to pets.

When I returned to my seat, a self-identified trapper told me I’d better hurry to my car at the end of the evening.

Advocating for wolves in Idaho means addressing a hostile audience and being exposed to threats from bullies emboldened by having the Commission’s ear.  As I left the meeting, I wondered what exactly that man was threatening me with, or for—but his remark served its purpose of warning me that expressing a pro-wolf position before the Commission is unpopular, if not downright dangerous.

The Commission is composed of men, not one of whom could accurately identify himself as a conservationist or wolf advocate.  Until the Commission’s composition accurately reflects the diversity of wildlife interests in Idaho, it is stifling voices of thousands of Idahoans who support conservation of wolves and other wildlife species.  It’s time for wildlife conservation interests have an equal voice in Idaho’s wildlife management policy—or at least a safe seat at the table.

Talasi Brooks is a Staff Attorney, based in Western Watersheds Project’s Boise, Idaho office.