Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter notified Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today that Idaho no longer will act as the federal government's "designated agent," managing wolves imposed on the state under the Endangered Species Act.
Instead, the Governor directed the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to immediately refocus its efforts on protecting Idaho's deer, elk and moose, and said the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be submitting applications to the Interior Department for additional flexibility in addressing wolf depredation issues "so we can exercise our sovereign right to protect our wildlife."
"This directive preserves an individual's right to kill a wolf in self defense or in the defense of another person. It does not jeopardize the existing flexibility landowners and permittees have to protect their livestock and pets from wolves," Governor Otter wrote in a letter to Salazar. "Additionally, this approach does not ask Idahoans who continue suffering wolves -- especially sportsmen -- to subsidize any part of this federal program or bear the risk or burden of inadequate federal funding in the future."
In his letter, the Governor reiterated that the State of Idaho has consistently proven itself to be a responsible steward of all wildlife -- "including your wolves."
"We also showed that we could successfully manage a hunting season for wolves as we do for other species," he said. "The State managed wolves as part of the ecosystem, in concert with other species and needs, which was ironically decried by environmentalists who seemingly want wolves to benefit at the expense of other wild and domestic species."
"I am still committed to finding a path forward for delisting. My goal remains restoring State management under our approved plan as quickly as possible, if for no other reason than to fulfill the promise of our State law that all wildlife within our borders will be managed by the State. To that end, I am encouraged by the efforts of representatives from the three legislatures (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) to see if there is a path forward for delisting and state management," Governor Otter wrote to Salazar. "Although we could not agree during the course of our negotiations, I share your commitment to delist the species and restore state management as quickly as possible. It is truly frustrating that we cannot accomplish that shared goal today."