I applaud any effort to kill wolves in order to reduce numbers to reasonable levels where both predator and prey can coexist while at the same time reducing the threats of spreading any one or more than 30-some infectious diseases.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department (IDFG) attempted to do some aerial gunning in portions of the Lolo Zone but managed only to kill 5 wolves. Conditions were far from ideal in the region to easily spot and kill wolves, but congratulations on the effort.
In addition, IDFG has given the Idaho County Sheriff permission to shoot wolves terrorizing Elk City, where reports have been numerous over the past few weeks of wolves killing pets and livestock and at the same time putting people’s nerves on edge.
As is part of the MO, wild ungulates, such as elk, have moved into the downtown area of Elk City to escape the 24/7 harassment of wolves. As such, the wolves have moved right in with them, having no or little fear of man, killing what they need for food at night and escaping back into the forest during daylight.
Plans are also underway in Idaho and Montana for fall wolf hunts, but none of this initial effort will be enough I’m afraid. It will take awhile for managers to realize the difficulties that exist in trying to kill wolves and actually control them at desired levels. There may be some preliminary successes but once the wolves figure it out, these initial attempts will become fruitless.
That doesn’t mean they should stop either. As I said, any effort is better than simply protecting this predator, however, our managers evidently need to discover this process on their own. The history exists to learn from but the question will remain, how long will it take before authorities realize a limited wolf hunt, approached as a “big game” or “trophy” hunt, will do nothing to reduce wolf numbers and little to slow down the growth. (Note: IDFG charging out of state hunters $186 for a tag is foolishness. When discussions are being made on whether a bounty might become necessary, game officials are looking to charge money to kill wolves?)
Over two years ago, I did substantial research and developed a five-part series entitled, To Catch a Wolf. I invite readers to read this series if they haven’t yet or reread it to gain a better understanding of the extreme difficulties people faced around the globe trying to “control” wolves. It’s most interesting to discover bizarre and sometimes ingenious methods man devised simply to kill wolves. They even used humans as bait.
I’ve also written in the past about C. Gordon Hewitt’s adventures in Canada and dealing with trying to kill wolves and coyotes. He says:
“Any rational system of wild-life protection must take into account the control of the predatory species of mammals and birds. And while the complete extermination of such predatory species is not possible, desirable, or necessary, a degree of control must be exercised to prevent such an increase in numbers as would affect the abundance of the non-predatory species. In the treatment of predatory animals it is necessary to determine whether the species concerned are responsible for more harm than good in a particular region.”
After years of study and experience, Hewitt first determines that predator control is absolutely necessary. He further goes on to explain how that should be accomplished.
The most successful method of destroying coyotes, wolves and other predatory animals is by the organization of systematic hunting by paid hunters, receiving no bounties and working under government control. This policy is giving excellent results in the United States, as will be shown presently.
The problem is by no means a local one, nor even a provincial one; it is both interprovincial and international in character, and it is only by organization along these lines that ultimate success will be obtained. What we need is co-operation among all concerned: individuals, live-stock organizations, and governments; all of them should contribute to the funds that are needed to carry out the work after a broad policy has been formulated.
The time is now for all citizens in Idaho and Montana to get on the same page while they can and before the courts shut them down, and as quickly as possible reduce wolf numbers. It’s in everyone’s best interest.