To the Editor:
Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are where most of the nation’s wolves live. Unfortunately, these states also possess hunting and ranching cultures which cling to outdated Old West attitudes concerning predators. Some still believe the only good wolf is a dead wolf. Such archaic and biased thinking is often visible in the legislative decision-making process. In Montana, for example, SB185—“Prohibit hunting and trapping of wolves near Yellowstone,” despite overwhelming public support, was voted down by a Senate committee 9-1 last month. Wolves are hugely popular with park visitors and benefit businesses in neighboring communities, but often fall victim to trophy hunters whenever they step outside the park’s invisible boundary.
In Wyoming, wolves are killed anytime, any way, without a license in 85 percent of the state. People are even allowed to run down coyotes and wolves with snowmobiles! A bill to end this cruel practice was recently voted down in the state legislature.
Meanwhile, Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game is considering lengthening the wolf trapping season to the end of March. This is nothing less than barbaric! Wolves typically mate between January and March with the gestation period being 63 days. Trapping pregnant females means the pups they are carrying will die with them, or if they die lactating, their newborn pups will also die.
By focusing on killing wolves to artificially inflate elk and deer numbers for hunters, state lawmakers and wildlife officials are blindly ignoring their value in combating the growing lethal health threat to elk and deer herds—Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The irony and reality is: wolves are their best defense against this deadly disease. Wolves can make a difference, but only if they exist in sufficient numbers. Unfortunately, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming lawmakers and wildlife officials are asleep at the wheel.