Just days after Congress voted to strip wolves of federal protection under the Endangered Wildlife Act, the state of Idaho declared the gray wolf a disaster emergency. The Republican controlled legislature passed the emergency disaster law, and the Republican governor signed it. This law allows state wildlife management to issue hunting permits to kill the gray wolf in that state. State officials have said that there are roughly 700 gray wolves in Idaho and that number needs to be brought down to 150. The gray wolf of the Northern Rockies is the first creature ever taken off the U.S. endangered species list by act of Congress, rather than by scientific review, under a measure inserted into a sweeping budget bill. To put this into perspective Idaho covers 83,574 square miles. Basically for every 119 square miles you’ll find a wolf. Total state population is around 1,523,816 people, and for every square mile you’ll find 18 people. There are currently over 100,000 elk in Idaho. Since 2007 hunters have killed 24,000 elk in Idaho. Wolf packs will take down one prey animal a week in order to survive. Wolf pack sizes can vary from 5-11. If we took a conservative wolf pack size of 7 that would mean that they would kill 100 elk or other prey per week, based on the size of the number of wolves in Idaho. The most they would kill in order to survive would be 5200 prey animals per year. Since 2007 hunters take a little over 5200 elk per year as well, but that number does include the number of deer killed for sport. Wolves play an important role in the Rockies bio system, unfortunately for them hunters play too important of a tax role for state governments. Calling this an emergency disaster is akin to saying there are not enough guns in the state of Idaho.
Photo Credit: Max Waugh