Shoot-on-Sight Wolves?

Andrew McKean Avatar

Do bourgeoning wolf populations in the Rockies constitute an emergency that would justify the sort of response states typically reserve for floods, wildfires and other natural disasters?

Or, put another way, might the Idaho National Guard be called out to kill wolves?

That’s one way to read a joint resolution that has been drafted by the Idaho Legislature and could be introduced in the state’s House any day. The legislation, HCR043, calls for the governor “to declare that a state of emergency exists in Idaho” due to the “unnecessarily large number of wolves” in the state. Further, the law would require the state’s Fish and Game Department to “use any means” to reduce Idaho’s wolf population to the numbers adequate for recovery of the previously endangered species.

It’s a high-profile call to action by a growing number of anti-wolf activists in the state. This loose coalition of hunters, outfitters, landowners and wildlife advocates has become so frustrated with the growing number of reintroduced wolves, and what they claim are rules that hamstring effective management of the predators, that the legislative big stick is one of the few tools left to them.

The resolution, which had its first reading yesterday, makes a number of claims, including:

  • “…unnecessarily high numbers of wolves constitute a threat, not only to property, but to human life itself, with particular threat to children.”
  • “…the time and cost required to protect livestock from wolf attacks is never compensated.”
  • “…unchecked numbers of wolves are destroying the heritage of rural Idahoans…”

The resolution uses as its state-of-emergency model the executive order issued in 1996 by Gov. Jim Risch after the escape of captive elk just outside Yellowstone National Park. Because of fear the escaped elk might spread disease to wild elk, the governor issued a shoot-on-sight order, and most of the pen-raised elk were killed by hunters and wildlife agents.

Wolves, the resolution claims, constitute a “far greater threat” to wildlife populations, and “hereby encourages the Governor of the State of Idaho to declare that a state of emergency exists in Idaho and to authorize and require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to use any legal means to reduce wolf numbers to those designated for recovery of the species.”

Click here to read the resolution yourself, then let us know what you think.