BOISE, Idaho—Ten conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging Idaho’s extreme wolf-trapping rules, which facilitate the slaughter of up to 90% of Idaho’s gray wolf population.
The lawsuit contends that continued and expanded wolf trapping and snaring will injure and kill non-target grizzly bears and Canada lynx, which are federally protected species. The groups will also be asking the court to halt all wolf trapping in grizzly bear and lynx habitat until the merits of the case can be decided.
Earthjustice represents the Center for Biological Diversity, Footloose Montana, Friends of the Clearwater, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Global Indigenous Council, the Humane Society of the United States, International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Sierra Club, Trap Free Montana, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and Wolves of the Rockies in the lawsuit.
Idaho’s new laws establish a permanent wolf-trapping season on private property across the state, eliminate limits on the number of wolves one person can kill, permit the continued use of poison bait that attracts non-target animals at high rates, and introduce state-sponsored, private-contractor killing of wolves.
“It’s sickening that Idaho has approved what amounts to unregulated hunting and trapping in an effort to wipe out its wolf population,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Other animals, like federally protected grizzly bears and lynx, will be injured or die in these cruel traps and snares. The state’s disregard for all of their lives is outrageous and unacceptable.”
“Even before Idaho expanded its efforts to kill more gray wolves, grizzly bears and lynx have been getting caught in the crossfire,” said Benjamin Scrimshaw, associate attorney for Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies office. “Traps and snares are indiscriminate and the dangers to non-target species are well known. The failure to take any effort to protect threatened grizzly bears and lynx while pushing the slaughter of wolves violates the Endangered Species Act.”
“Litigation is essential to fight the cancer that is our Montana legislature in their war on wildlife, we stand with protecting lynx and grizzly bears from our medieval ways of killing, these are their lands and they share them with Montana's magnificent wolves,” said Stephen Capra, executive director of Footloose Montana.
“Since wolf reintroduction of 1995, it is generally agreed wolves have had an overall positive behavioral effect on elk and on other primary and secondary impacts within the ecological niche of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” said Clint Nagel, president of Gallatin Wildlife Association. “The fact that the states of Idaho and Montana have seen fit to complicate the natural processes by allowing the incidental take of other predators is a compounding, and negative effect on our overall wildlands."
“Idaho’s senseless and extreme wolf-killing regime permits an unlimited number of steel-jawed leghold traps and snares to litter habitat across the state year-round. These cruel devices will indiscriminately kill and maim wolves, grizzly bears and Canada lynx,” said Nicholas Arrivo, attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. “Idaho’s callous willingness to let other imperiled wildlife become collateral damage in its bloody war on wolves violates the Endangered Species Act and must be stopped.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve already seen grizzly bears caught and killed in wolf snares in Idaho. Expansion of wolf baiting, trapping and snaring in grizzly bear habitat will not only decimate the states’ wolf population but will result in more dead grizzly bears,” said Bonnie Rice, Northern Rockies senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “Idaho’s grizzly bear population remains small and vulnerable, and policies that threaten its full recovery cannot be allowed to stand.”
“Idaho's liberalized, aggressive, and incentivized wolf trapping is certain to trap, snare, injure, and kill far more than wolves,” said KC York, president and founder of Trap Free Montana. “Trapping is inherently indiscriminate. Idaho's trap check for wolves of 72 hours, is 3 times the scientific findings recommendation of 24 hours to reduce injury and death. What happens across our state line to threatened species, grizzly and lynx, affects us all.”
“Idaho politicians have made no secret of their deep hatred for wolves, enacting a policy of eradication based in fear, not science,” said Patrick Kelly, Idaho director with Western Watersheds Project. “In their zeal to reverse decades of effective, science-based conservation, Idaho politicians have not only endangered the long-term viability of Idaho's wolves, they have recklessly promoted snaring and trapping that kill and maim both lynx and grizzly bears. This indiscriminate and senseless killing is not only cruel and immoral, it also violates Endangered Species Act protections for lynx and grizzlies, and must be stopped.”
“Idaho’s persecution of wolves has reached an astounding new low,” said Dana Johnson, staff attorney for Wilderness Watch’s Idaho office. “The collateral killing and harassment of already struggling lynx and grizzly bears is both unacceptable and illegal. It has to stop.”
“As a member of the Idaho wolf reintroduction team in the 1990s, I’m appalled by the state of Idaho’s betrayal of its agreement to manage wolves exactly like we manage black bears and mountain lions,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, director of the International Wildlife Coexistence Network. “Idaho does not allow trapping, snaring, or killing black bears and mountain lion cubs in their dens as they now do to wolves. Idaho is exterminating wolves not managing them and they don’t care that other species such as lynx and grizzly are also being impacted because of their obsession to persecute wolves.”
“There is a war raging against our wolves and wildlife in the Rocky Mountains,” said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. “Join us in the struggle by being a voice for the voiceless.”
Grizzly bears and lynx are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The loss of even a few of these ecologically important predators could significantly hamper their recovery in Idaho. Wolves were also protected under the Endangered Species Act until a 2011 congressional carve-out removed Idaho’s wolves from the endangered species list. Now the state is permitting the slaughter of more than 1,200 of its estimated 1,500 wolves—and has taken no steps to protect other animals that can be injured and killed in indiscriminate traps.