In response to questions from sportsmen, livestock producers and other citizens, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter issued the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) response today about the status and path forward on wolves in Idaho.
* What did you do regarding State management of wolves on Monday, October 18th?
I notified Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that Idaho no longer will act as the federal government's "designated agent," managing wolves imposed on the state under the Endangered Species Act.
* What does that mean for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game?
It means Fish and Game no longer will perform statewide monitoring of wolves, conduct investigations into allegedly illegal killings of wolves, provide law enforcement in response to allegedly illegal takings of wolves, or implement the livestock depredation response program. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will immediately refocus its efforts on protecting Idaho's deer, elk and moose, and the Department of Fish and Game will apply to the Interior Department for additional flexibility in addressing wolf depredation issues so we can exercise our sovereign right to protect our wildlife. To reduce costs where appropriate, Fish and Game also will use experienced volunteers as special agents to aid in carrying out wolf-control actions approved by the Interior Department.
* Doesn't protecting ungulates under federal regulations require that Idaho be a "designated agent?"
No. There is no such requirement. However, it's important to remember that federal regulations do not allow the State or anyone else to kill a wolf because it is attacking, biting or even harassing a deer, elk or moose -- only people, pets and livestock. It is my contention that ungulates are the State's "livestock," and that we should have the right to protect them like any livestock owner. Once our application for increased flexibility in the Lolo Zone is approved, the State will be authorized to kill wolves in that zone regardless of whether they are attacking, biting or harassing ungulates -- but rather because of the unacceptable impact on ungulates.
* Why is Idaho choosing not to be the designated agent for wolf management?
We have looked at the issue from a different perspective, questioning whether there is any benefit to being a designated agent without the flexibility of a public hunt, which has been denied. Idaho has an approved management plan and as much flexibility as currently allowed under federal regulations. Moreover, I am not convinced that continuing as a designated agent gets us any closer to delisting than we are today. And ending our designated agent status does not ask Idahoans -- especially sportsmen -- to subsidize any part of this federal program or bear the risk or burden of inadequate federal funding in the future.
* Who do ranchers contact if they have a problem with wolves?
Nothing changes on the ground for livestock producers in terms of the flexibility they have to kill wolves that are harassing, biting or attacking their livestock. If they need a kill permit in the future, they need to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Boise or their local USDA Wildlife Services representative.
* You have compared your position on wolves to communities where illegal aliens are given "sanctuary." What do you mean by that?
In both cases, local jurisdictions make a choice not to enforce a particular federal rule or law. In the case of wolves, that means State agencies will not respond to illegal killings of wolves, provide law enforcement for or investigate illegal takings. Enforcement and investigation of wolf-related issues are the sole responsibility of the federal government from this point forward.
* What is the status of the Nez Perce Tribe in wolf management now?
As a designated agent for the federal government, the State of Idaho previously cooperated with the Nez Perce Tribe to submit joint funding requests to Congress for wolf management. The State and tribe also have shared monitoring data and population counts in the past. The tribe received a copy of my letter to Secretary Salazar, and the federal government is continuing to consult with Nez Perce leaders.
* Where do we go from here?
We are going to protect Idaho's ungulate herds. We are just as committed as ever to delisting and restoring State management of wolves as quickly as possible. We now will have more time to focus on a path forward on delisting -- whether that is through Congress or via the courts in our challenge of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's decisions to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.