Backlash against the “inhumane killing” of eight wolf pups that were adopted by students at a Boise high school is rising from conservation groups outraged over the incident.
After the pups were killed, members of several Idaho-based organizations sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in August demanding that he “immediately suspend the killing of wolf pups on all public lands by the USDA’s federal agents.”
Last week, the department responded by noting USDA officials always try to find “practical, humane, effective and environmentally safe solutions to wildlife problems or conflicts,” but at times lethal measures are needed.
The various organizations expressed shock and anger at the Biden administration for supporting the killing of the pups, which federal officials said came in response to complaints from a rancher in the area.
“We are very concerned and believe that the Biden administration needs to step up and reinstate protection because we know that Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are in an all-out frontal assault on wolves,” said Dick Jordan, a former science teacher at Timberline High School and presidential science award recipient, the Idaho Statesman reported, which was cited by The Associated Press.
“Something has to be done. It’s inhumane, it’s unethical and it’s not ecologically sound,” Jordan added.
The original letter to the USDA was signed by members of several organizations including the International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of Clearwater and the Center for Biological Diversity, all of whom said they were “dismayed” to learn that federal agents from the agencies Idaho Wildlife Services were responsible for the deaths of the pups.
The groups said that wolves have been “under attack” in the state for some time after lawmakers passed a bill this year allowing for more conditions under which they could be killed. Specifically, the legislation struck a previous 15-per-year limit on hunting and trapping of the animals and empowers the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board to hire private contractors to hunt wolves considered to be threats to livestock herds or to other wildlife, the AP reported.
“There is nothing biologically sound or socially acceptable about killing wolf pups on federal lands, especially when wolves are under significant eradication pressure,” the letter said. “Wolf pups pose no threat to domestic livestock — in Idaho, or anywhere in the Western United States.”
Jenny Lester Moffitt, the USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, responded in a letter noting that Wildlife Services “prefers to use nonlethal methods.” But, she continued, “in some situations — such as that in Idaho — it is necessary to use lethal control methods.”
“We assure you that WS personnel work carefully to remove only those animals necessary to protect livestock, other agricultural resources, natural resources, human health and safety, or property,” her letter continued, the AP reported.
Students at Timberline High School, “home of the Wolves,” adopted the pack in 2003 and had been tracking the wolves since.
“People need to understand how important wolves are ecologically,” Jordan said.
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