By Governor Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter
In Idaho a promise is a promise. We have lived up to our promise of responsible stewardship of wolves under our approved state management plan. Despite the frustrating federal court decision almost four weeks ago, Idaho remains prepared to manage wolves when State management is once again rightfully restored.
Now that the species will inexplicably receive federal protection, can we expect Defenders of Wildlife to keep its promise to pay for livestock depredations caused by the wolves it fought so hard to bring to Idaho? The answer is no.
Not only did the Defenders of Wildlife sue to overturn delisting and oppose state management, the group now has announced it will break one of its original promises devised to increase public acceptance of this species that was forced upon us by the federal government. That pledge was to reimburse livestock producers for wolf-related impacts while the species remained under federal protection.
With this unfortunate action, and the Defenders of Wildlife's disingenuous approach to the depredation reimbursements it did make, it now is clear that the organization never intended to keep its commitment to any agreements.
The Defenders of Wildlife has unreasonably opposed state management at every turn. Wolves in sheep's clothing perhaps? This lack of sincere commitment is not a surprise for those who have wrestled with the wolf issue and Defenders of Wildlife's compensation program since the wolves were planted here 15 years ago.
More troubling is the group's conveniently forgotten commitment to support delisting when the species met recovery goals, which we have since 2002. Now we have three times the wolves required for delisting in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and the Defenders of Wildlife wants to change recovery levels before federal protection is lifted.
The Endangered Species Act does not work and won't work as long as promises are broken. Unfortunately, the real tragedy is the continued loss of livestock and the impacts to our ungulate herds. Rest assured, I am working with the Office of Species Conservation and Department of Fish and Game to do everything within my power to restore state management and hunting. That's my promise to every Idahoan and the Defenders of Wildlife.