By JESSE HARLAN ALDERMAN, Houston Chronicle
Jan. 11, 2007
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BOISE, Idaho — Idaho's governor said Thursday he
will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of
the state's gray wolves after the federal
government strips them of protection under the
Endangered Species Act.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter told The Associated Press
that he wants hunters to kill about 550 gray
wolves. That would leave about 100 wolves, or 10
packs, according to a population estimate by state
The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum
before the animals could again be considered
"I'm prepared to bid for that first ticket to
shoot a wolf myself," Otter said earlier Thursday
during a rally of about 300 hunters.
Otter complained that wolves are rapidly killing
elk and other animals essential to Idaho's
multimillion-dollar hunting industry. The hunters,
many wearing camouflage clothing and blaze-orange
caps, applauded wildly during his comments.
Suzanne Stone, a spokeswoman for the advocacy
group Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, said Otter's
proposal would return wolves to the verge of
"Essentially he has confirmed our worst fears for
the state of Idaho: That this would be a political
rather than a biological management of the wolf
population," Stone said. "There's no economic or
ecological reason for maintaining such low
numbers. It's simple persecution."
Wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rocky
Mountains a decade ago after being hunted to
near-extinction. More than 1,200 now live in the
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to start
removing federal protections from gray wolves in
Montana and Idaho in the next few weeks.
A plan drafted by Idaho's wildlife agency calls
for maintaining a minimum of 15 wolf packs _
higher than Otter's proposal of 10 packs.
Jeff Allen, a policy adviser for the state Office
of Species Conservation, said 15 wolf packs would
allow "a cushion" between the surviving wolf
population and the minimum number that federal
biologists would allow before the animals are
again considered endangered.
Allen said Otter and state wildlife officials
agree on wolf strategy and will be able to reach a
consensus on specific numbers.
"You don't want to be too close to 10 because all
of a sudden when one (wolf) is hit by a car or
taken in defense of property, you're back on the
list," Allen said.