I attended the IDFG Commissioner’s “special meeting” on Monday in Idaho Falls where the commissioners discussed how to proceed now that wolves are again protected by the Endangered Species Act.
After the Commission decided to adopt new rules on placement of traps, which requires trappers to keep traps at least 5 feet away from the center line of established trails and at least 300 feet away from established campgrounds, the subject of wolf management was next.
Robyn Thorson, the regional director for the USFWS, was first up and gave the most incredible bootlicking performance I’ve ever seen. She began by profusely apologizing to the Commission for the failure of their rule to delist wolves to live up to the law and then went on to give emphatic support for Idaho’s management plan and the way that Idaho Fish and Game has been managing wolves. She expressed that the USFWS was “deeply disappointed” that they lost in court.
The commissioners wanted to know if there was any way to ease the burden the present 10(j) rule which requires the use of science to show that wolves are having “unacceptable impacts” on ungulate populations and are a major reason that ungulate populations are not meeting the objectives set by the department. The IDFG wants to more easily kill wolves and extrapolate the existing science that they have conducted to zones adjacent to the Lolo Zones that they are concerned about. They also want to know if they have to conduct new science on other zones.
Thorson reminded them that the current 10(j) rule is once again under litigation and that the forthcoming decision on that case would determine the sideboards with which further decisions are made. She said she couldn’t really comment on whether the burden of science could be eased but said that they “would look at everything with the intent of trying to find a path”.
The commissioners then asked the USFWS to participate in the appeal of Molloy’s decision. She responded that the USFWS had made no decision about whether to appeal the decision.
Wayne Wright expressed disappointment that Idaho had not been involved in the decision about the DPS decision when the reintroduction plan was developed. Thorson stated that they would “not let that happen again” and that they wouldn’t do it without collaboration and open comment. She said that, since they have someone in Boise who works specifically on wolves, they could provide the “listening and sharing of information part” and that she hopes “to remedy any past laws in process”.
Randy Budge asked whether the USFWS felt that wolves were in any jeopardy with Idaho and Montana managing wolves in their respective states and the USFWS managing wolves in Wyoming. Thorson responded that the USFWS did not concur with the ruling of the judge and felt that the delisting rule adequately protected wolves. She also suggested that the quickest way for the Service to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies was for Wyoming to change their management plan so that it met their requirements. She didn’t know why Wyoming doesn’t want to come up with a plan but that they don’t and that’s the way it is.
There is much more and you can watch video from the meeting below:
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