The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is calling on the environmentalist group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to stick to the facts when making presumptions about wildlife populations.
CBD recently claimed that Idaho’s wolf population is on the verge of endangered status when, in reality, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) stated that preliminary counts indicate Idaho has more than 100 documented wolf packs and 600-plus wolves. IDFG also reported it has a minimum of 22 documented breeding pairs after counting only 30 packs. IDFG biologists have yet to examine the status of 77 additional packs.
“A few advocacy groups chose to take the breeding pair metric out of context to make claims that Idaho wolves are ‘teetering on the brink of endangered status once again.’ That’s hogwash,” said Virgil Moore, IDFG director. “And it’s the kind of polarizing misinformation that undermines responsible wildlife conservation and management in Idaho.”
“It is not surprising when you consider this group’s intent on stirring the pot to dilute the facts in order to raise emotions and money,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Groups like CBD do not really want states to manage wolves and they don’t really want states to be successful in managing wolves. Facts are facts and it is a clear fact that none of the states managing wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Region are remotely close to low numbers of breeding pairs or total wolf population. These groups would rather file a lawsuit and collect their legal fees from the U.S. taxpayers than actually work with the states to better manage all the wildlife populations together.”
History shows that to be true. A 2012 report used Department of Justice data that showed the federal government defended more than 570 Endangered Species Act-related lawsuits (wolves included) over a four-year period which cost American taxpayers more than $15 million in attorney fees. CBD was, by far, the most litigious organization with 117 cases.
“Groups like CBD excel at taking advantage of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) which was never intended to fund lawsuits by NGOs to promote ideology. What they don’t excel at, to say the least, is conducting wildlife counts,” said Allen.
IDFG is expected to release its final 2014 wolf population estimate in March. The minimum number of documented wolves as of December 31, 2013, was estimated at 659 or more than 500 percent above minimum recovery levels agreed upon during wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s. The 659 figure did not include wolves from 28 documented border packs that overlapped with Montana, Wyoming and Washington. IDFG presumes there are additional packs within its borders but are not included due to a lack of documentation.
“The bottom line is Idaho’s wolf population is not endangered in the least and it’s vital that state management remain in place in order to whittle the population closer to balanced recovery levels where they should be and where EVERYONE agreed the numbers should be. CBD did not object to the recovery goals in 1995, but now they and other groups like them pretend they never heard of the recovery goals,” added Allen.
In keeping with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, RMEF supports state-regulated hunting and trapping as the preferred tools of wolf management. RMEF staunchly supports management to balance and control predator populations.
RMEF has awarded nearly $265,000 in grants to various states specifically for wolf management activities including $50,000 to Idaho in 2013. No other groups have granted any financial resources for any type of predator management including CBD.