An interesting move has emerged from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). It has been announced that the Idaho Game Commission has opted to suspend use of the 2008 Wolf Management Plan due to the fact that Idaho Governor Butch Otter informed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) the state no longer wanted anything to do with being an agent of the Feds as it pertains to wolf management.
This move appears to be the brainchild of Commissioner Fred Trevey. His motion contained three key elements.
(1) Continue the pursuit of control actions under 10J for the protection of ungulate herds while wolves remain listed under the Endangered Species Act;
(2) Suspend immediately the 2008-2012 Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan; and
(3) Postpone consideration, until delisting resumes, as to the specifics of day-to-day state wolf management and upon delisting of gray wolves in Idaho; the Commission will direct the Department to prepare an appropriate wolf species management plan, consistent with the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This move has wolf lovers considering hari kari, when in reality there is no real reason to do so. Please consider the facts.
The first and most important fact that has never been addressed in the wolf management plans for Idaho, is what The Outdoorsman editor, George Dovel, has told readers about for months; Idaho’s 2008 Wolf Management Plan is illegal. This proof comes from the fact that in 2002 the Idaho legislature approved the state’s wolf management plan. In that legislation it was specifically written that IDFG could not change from this plan without legislative approval. IDFG went ahead and drafted the 2008 plan, presented it to USFWS for approval, in consideration of delisting wolves, and adopted it, all illegally.
From the Idaho 2002 Wolf Management Plan:
IDFG will update this plan periodically and submit any changes to the Idaho Legislature as if it were a new plan submitted for approval, amendment or rejection under Section 36-2405, Idaho Code
So now Idaho appears to be moving back to the only legal wolf plan it ever had. Remember however that gray wolves are still listed as endangered and protected under federal law. Idaho planners would like to reduce wolf numbers in some regions of the state where there are serious problems. Aside from what is permitted within the general guidelines of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), IDFG can only request further killing of unwanted wolves through the bureaucratic processes of the ESA and the infamous 10j rule. This rule provides for authorities to kill wolves that are problems but in order to do that must first prove to the Feds that the presence of these wolves are having a direct, negative and/or detrimental affect on other species. Good luck with that.
So, Commissioner Trevey’s motion calls for IDFG and the state of Idaho to continue to pursue “control actions” within the legal parameters of the ESA and 10j, drop the illegal 2008 Wolf Management Plan and begin work on a new plan when and if the process begins again to delist wolves.
Any claims that this move will begin the onslaught of wolves throughout Idaho is poppycock, nonsensical fear mongering. But what it does do is put Idaho in a completely different position with the Feds and delisting. The USFWS agreed to propose delisting of wolves in Idaho once it approved the 2008 illegal wolf management plan. That plan no longer exists as it pertains to a state-approved plan the Feds can work with. Therefore, if the USFWS is, once again, considering another proposal to delist wolves in Idaho, they will first have to hammer out a wolf management plan that USFWS will agree to. That might prove problematic.
When we take a look at Judge Johnson’s recent ruling in Wyoming, in which the USFWS acted arbitrarily and capriciously in once approving and then disapproving Wyoming’s wolf management plan, nobody knows for sure how this ruling will play out in further court cases or now in the case of Idaho, more than likely, needing a new wolf management plan.
One positive aspect of Commissioner Trevey’s move to drop the 2008 plan and revert back to the 2002 plan, is the simple fact that it will right a tragic wrong. Now let’s hope that the people of Idaho will have the say in how they want gray wolves managed in their state and not that of the wishes of a handful of employees of the Idaho Fish and Game Department.