January 28, 2005

Idaho Closer To State Control Of Wolves

Congressional delegation says Interior announcement means transition begins

Washington, DC â?? With this afternoonâ??s announcement by Interior Secretary Gale Norton regarding the official transition to state management of wolves, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig and Idaho Representatives Mike Simpson and C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter joined together to applaud the action, which validates Idahoâ??s leadership in the conservation of wolves. More than 450 wolves are located in Idaho, with a total of at least 850 wolves in the Idaho-Montana-Wyoming area.â??This demonstrates that the Idaho vision for species conservation works: the state does its part, the federal agencies do theirs, and together we have a real partnership," said Crapo. "By putting forward our own conservation plans, we in Idaho have found that the conservation job gets done and property rights are protected at the same time.â??Craig said, â??After years of hard work by Governor Kempthorne and other affected states, we have reached the goal of state management, and are one step closer to de-listing wolves in Idaho. Unfortunately, the wolves are breeding faster than the paperwork can be completed. In Idaho alone, there are approximately 450 wolves and the population is still growing. I appreciate Secretary Nortonâ??s commitment to the recovery of this species and know that state management of wolves will bring about a successful and levelheaded recovery of this â??threatenedâ?? species.â??â??The State of Idaho is clearly prepared to manage its own wolf population and I commend the Bush Administration for recognizing that fact and moving to transition authority back to the State,â?? said Simpson.Otter said, â??This is a welcome and important step toward recognizing state authority. I applaud Secretary Norton for acknowledging the value of Idaho's efforts, and for moving federal policy toward accepting that states are good stewards. While I have never supported releasing Canadian gray wolves in Idaho, the fact is that they're here now. Dealing with them effectively requires ensuring that states and local communities play the primary role in species management. This expanded authority brings that ideal closer to reality.â??During the 2002 and 2003 state legislative sessions, the Governor and the Legislature issued state policies supporting a viable self-sustaining population of wolves and protecting livestock and big game herds. The Idaho policy required that federal policy be updated so that an orderly transition of authority could proceed back to the state level. The Nez Perce Tribe, which has been implementing the field work of wolf conservation under federal authority, is expected to continue to play a role as a partner with the State of Idaho. # # #