Future Wolf Management In Idaho

Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association December 2010

WOLF MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL

WHEREAS, in 1994 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed designating portions of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as nonessential experimental wolf population areas for the gray wolf and,

WHEREAS, before introducing wolf populations, the USFWS prepared an Environmental Impact Statement supporting the Plan’s recovery goal of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in three separate recovery areas for a period of three years and,

WHEREAS, in 1995 and1996, 66 Canadian wolves were released in central Idaho (35 wolves) and Yellowstone National Park (31 wolves). By 2000, the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population had expanded to include more than 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves and,

WHEREAS, in 2002 the Idaho Legislative Wolf Oversight Committee developed the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which was accepted and passed by the Idaho Legislature. The Legislature in a good faith effort to ensure Endangered Species Act recovery increased Idaho’s minimum wolf population as directed in the Federal Plan from 100 individuals and 10 breeding pairs to 150 individuals and 15 breeding pairs. Idaho’s 2002 plan was accepted by the USFWS and,

WHEREAS, the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association (IOGA) supported the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and fought to be involved and recognized as stakeholders in subsequent state and federal bureaucratic processes and,

WHEREAS, the USFWS recovery goal of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in three separate recovery areas for a period of three consecutive years was reached in 2002 and,

WHEREAS, the USFWS de-listed the gray wolf population from the Endangered Species List in March of 2008. A lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Montana by a group of Plaintiffs challenging the Service’s delisting. On August 6, 2010, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy’s ruling returned wolves in Idaho to ESA protection, thus precluding continued implementation of Idaho’s Wolf Conservation Management Plan. The 2008 delisting allowed Idaho and Montana to implement a wolf hunting season for 2009. With the August 2010 ruling, there will be no further wolf hunting until and if the wolves are once again delisted and,

WHEREAS, IOGA thinks it is disingenuous and shameful on the part of certain wolf advocate groups to employ the moving goalpost strategy regarding the accepted goals of wolf recovery and

WHEREAS, Idaho’s wolf population continues to grow and expand at an average annual rate of 20 percent. based upon the best available science, the 2009 population is more than 835 wolves in Idaho, 94 packs and 49 breeding pair, 8 times the minimum Federal recovery level with 1,600 in the Northern Rocky Mountain population which is a 400-mile southern extension of the vast Canadian and Alaskan populations whose numbers are estimated to exceed 60,000 animals and,

WHEREAS, many IOGA Hunt outfitter members believe 2009 Idaho wolf population numbers are significantly underestimated and,

WHEREAS, wolf predation has and continues to have a substantial adverse affect on elk populations in certain areas, particularly in northern and central Idaho where management population objectives are no longer met and have created a predator pit and,

WHEREAS, hunt outfitters are also very concerned with the additive impact of wolf predation on Idaho’s moose population and,

WHEREAS, wolf predation has prevented elk population objectives from being met in several management zones and has necessitated reduced opportunities for hunters, outfitted and non-outfitted, negatively affecting Idaho’s economy, as well as Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) revenues and ,

WHEREAS, the impact of the continuing population increase of wolves in Idaho has created a severe economic hardship for Idaho’s outfitters and guides and, as well as adverse economic impacts on the service industries in Idaho’s communities who support the business aspect of hunting and,

WHEREAS, Idaho Hunting Outfitters depend upon a Non-Resident client base to a large degree and the national hunt media portrays Idaho’s big game hunting opportunities as “devastated by wolf impacts”, i.e,“non-resident hunters leaving Idaho like rats leaving a sinking ship” – Huntin’ Fool Magazine and

WHEREAS, the IDFG ‘s Non-Resident tag sales showed 4,527 “unsold” deer tags and 3,891 “unsold” elk tags for the 2010 hunting season which in large part was due to negative national news media coverage of wolf impacts to Idaho’s ungulate populations and,

WHEREAS, December 2010 national TV coverage cites economic studies indicating for every $1.00 spent locally in small communities, $.68 remains in that community of which outfitter’s ‘client revenue’ qualifies and.

WHEREAS, Idaho hunting outfitters are licensed to specific geographic areas and cannot shift their hunting operations to areas less impacted by wolves and,

WHEREAS, Idaho’s hunt outfitters served 4,902 hunting clients in 1990 and that number had dropped to 1,161 in 2009 and,

WHEREAS, Idaho outfitters rely upon repeat business as a significant percentage of annual guided clients and,

WHEREAS, due to lack of sufficient funding the IDFG cannot adequately monitor ungulate herd composition within given areas of Idaho and it is the opinion of many observers including Idaho licensed big game outfitters that the data used is insufficient to depict the actual situation of wolf predation on the ground and,

WHEREAS, it is the belief of many experienced and respected outfitters, sportsmen and biologists that the controlling factor preventing abundant ungulate populations is the additive impact of an overpopulation of wolves and

WHEREAS, the IDFG Commission have heard from thousands of sportsmen and others who value Idaho’s hunting culture, traditions and heritage. These traditions depend on healthy populations of deer, elk and moose. IDFG’s 2009 non-resident hunter survey clearly shows that a major factor in the decline of non-resident tag sales is Idaho’s wolf population and its impacts on wildlife and,

WHEREAS, further loss of the ungulate big game resources and the corresponding businesses is unacceptable to the IOGA;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Idaho Outfitter and Guides Association supports current congressional efforts to delist wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains including Idaho and,

FURTHER, IOGA supports the Governor’s Office decision of October 2010 to remove Idaho from wolf management and associated costs while negotiations continue between the state and federal government to delist wolves and/or allow the State to manage and control wolves at the levels agreed to in the 2002 Idaho Wolf Management and Conservation Plan and,

FURTHER, every effort must be taken to complete these actions in the immediate future in order to prevent irreversible impacts in given areas on Idaho’s wildlife, the Idaho Hunting Outfitter Industry and the rural economy of Idaho and

FURTHER, IOGA will continue to pursue all available lawful means to protect Idaho’s big game resources and the small family businesses dependant upon those resources while assessing the myriad of additional strategies being promoted by sportsmen’s organizations to proactively deal with August 2010 court decision to relist Idaho’s wolves as endangered.