Government slaughters pack of wolf pups adopted by Idaho school

USDA says killing pups encouraged adult wolves to relocate

Namita Singh
Tuesday 12 October 2021 11:38
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The US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Service Branch has killed eight pups from a wolf pack that high school students in Idaho have been tracking for 18 years.

Conservationists at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, learned about the killing of the Timberline wolf pack pups after they obtained a wolf “mortality list” from the State’s Department of Fish and Game, reported The Washington Post. The school adopted the wolf pack in 2003.

The incident came months after Idaho governor Brad Little signed a law that allowed private contractors to kill 90 per cent of the state’s estimated 1,500 wolves. Lawmakers who backed the move by the Republican governor argued that the measure was needed to reduce attacks on livestock and provide a boost to deer and elk herds.

The bill allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves and provides additional funding to state officials to hire the contractors, according to the Associated Press.

The law also lists the methods with which wolves can be killed — hunting, trapping, snaring, chasing them down using snowmobiles and shooting them from helicopters. It also legalised the killing of a newborn pup, if found on private land.

In August, wolf conservationist groups wrote to the agriculture department, asking it to suspend the killing of wolf pups on public lands. The department denied the request.

In a letter on 1 October, Jenny Lester Moffitt, the USDA’s undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs, defended the killing of eight “juvenile wolves”, saying that they were attacking livestock.

Calling them “lethal control methods”, Ms Moffitt said killing juvenile wolves encouraged “adult wolves to relocate, thereby reducing the total number of wolves requiring removal”.

Dick Jordan, a former science teacher at Timberline High School, slammed the decision of the USDA’s Idaho Wildlife Services federal agents to kill the pups. “We are very concerned and believe that the Biden administration needs to step up and reinstate protection, because we know that Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are in an all-out frontal assault on wolves,” he told the Idaho Statesman.

The killings began after the Trump administration in October 2020 dropped wolves from the list of Endangered Species Act, arguing that the population had sufficiently recovered and therefore no longer warranted protection. The species was shielded federally for more than 45 years after it was exterminated from 48 states.

According to a study released in July, as many as one-third of Wisconsin’s grey wolves were killed in the months after the federal government announced the end of legal protections. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin found that the statewide population of wolves fell from 1,034 in spring of 2020 to between 695 and 751.

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