Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced
Monday that his state will no longer act as the federal
government’s “designated agent” for wolf management.
Republican contends that wolves have been “devastating” deer, elk
and moose populations and the state has a “sovereign right” to
protect its big game populations.
“Idahoans have suffered from this intolerable situation for too
long, but starting today at least the state will no longer be
complicit,” Otter wrote. “As you know, Idaho stands ready to manage
wolves when the species is once again delisted. Until then, the
state will not manage wolves as the designated agent of the federal
“That means that Idaho Department of Fish and Game will not perform
statewide monitoring for wolves, conduct investigations into
illegal killings, provide state law enforcement in response to
illegal takings or implement the livestock depredation response
Otter said he is instead directing Fish and Game to concentrate on
protecting ungulate herds from wolves, using experienced volunteers
to act as “special agents” in carrying out “control actions” in
certain areas where wolf impacts on elk, in particular, have been
a statement released Monday afternoon from Washington, D.C., a
Department of Interior press secretary said sport hunting for
wolves cannot legally resume, despite Idaho’s action.
light of the federal court ruling, the wolf is again on the
Endangered Species list and therefore we cannot currently authorize
the resumption of sport hunting of wolves,” stated Kendra Barkoff.
“Up to this point, we appreciate the states of Idaho and Montana
who have been working responsibly to manage wolves; nonetheless, we
must follow the court’s ruling.”
It’s unclear what impact Idaho’s new policy towards wolves will
have on Montana, which is currently pursuing a multi-pronged
approach to restore a managed wolf hunt. Montana Fish, Wildlife and
Parks Director Joe Maurier and Carolyn Sime, the state’s wolf
management coordinator, could not be reached for comment.
Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg recently told the Inter Lake that in his
conversations with Otter, the governor said his new approach toward
wolves is similar to declaring Idaho a “sanctuary state.” That term
is typically applied to cities and states that refuse to take on
any role in enforcing federal immigration laws.
Otter wrote another letter to Salazar in August stating the Idaho
Fish and Game Commission had recommended that the state remain in a
lead management role for wolves, and asking to negotiate a new
memorandum of understanding for that to happen.
Otter warned that he would be seeking a “provision for public
hunting” in the agreement, despite the ruling from U.S. District
Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula earlier this year that restored
Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana,
effectively ending managed wolf hunts in both states.
Montana and Idaho both assumed lead management roles around 2006,
using federal funding to carry out a variety of wolf-related
duties. Otter noted that Idaho eagerly accepted its new role to
show that the state could manage wolves in a manner similar to the
way other predator species are managed.
showed, during delisting, that we are responsible stewards of all
our wildlife, including your wolves,” Otter states in his latest
letter to Salazar. “Today I join many Idahoans in questioning
whether there is any benefit to being a designated agent without
the flexibility of a public hunt, which has been denied.”
Otter concluded by saying he is “committed to finding a path
forward for delisting” wolves and restoring the state’s authority
to manage the species.
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Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by e-mail at