The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation filed to intervene in a lawsuit by animal rights groups seeking to thwart the management of wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) hired a hunter in late 2013 that successfully removed two packs of wolves. He since departed the central Idaho area where predation is having a severe effect on dwindling elk herds.
“This was a legal management activity that is part of a long-standing cooperative relationship between Idaho Fish and Game and the National Forest Service,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “The judge in the case also denied two preliminary injunction requests by the same groups to stop the effort.”
“The wilderness is a special place, but it is different from a national park,” said Virgil Moore, IDFG director. “Backcountry hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing are treasured opportunities, and Fish and Game has actively managed wildlife in central Idaho since before the area was designated wilderness.”
IDFG has an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to use each other’s facilities when carrying out missions.
Moore also said aerial surveys in the wilderness area indicate elk populations dropped 43 percent since 2002 and wolf populations are too high in relation to elk numbers.
RMEF has a rich history in leading wildlife research efforts around the country including lifetime grants of more than $725,000 to advance the science of wolves, wolf interactions with elk and other wildlife, and overall wolf management. In just the past two years, RMEF granted more than $210,000 directly to the state wildlife agencies in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
“There are those who believe the wolf deserves special treatment above and beyond all other wildlife. Wolves need to remain subject to effective state management like elk, deer, bears and lions in order to ensure balance and that there is sufficient habitat for the survival of all species,” added Allen.
RMEF is also an intervener in lawsuits brought by animal rights groups regarding wolf management in Wyoming and in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin while also active in a second Wyoming suit.
Logo courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation