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Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland,

Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I have read several articles in a couple of newspapers about the Department's meetings to discuss wolf management. I was unable to attend. What's the gist of the meetings?"

Answer: Sometimes our public open house meetings become a forum for special interest groups to grandstand their views. However, the intent of these meetings was to discuss strategies and methods for wolf management not to debate whether we should or shouldn't have wolves or whether we should or shouldn't allow harvest.

Those issues were settled long ago when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approved the Idaho Wolf Management Plan that was developed and adopted by the Idaho legislature. Idaho has a management plan. That plan says wolves are here to stay and wolves will be managed. The tools include hunting.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to begin delisting wolves from the Endanger Species Act on February 29, 2008. After the record of decision is recorded in the Federal Register the process requires a 30 day public comment period. The Department has been informed several special interest groups intend to file a law suit to prevent delisting.

We are hopeful if this occurs the courts will allow the Idaho management plan to be implemented while the parties to the law suit argue their case in federal court.

The Department's open house meetings were designed to inform the public of our management approach to this point as well as gather ideas from Idaho citizens about how they want us to manage wolf populations and what strategies they favor.

The results of the meetings and the input provided by citizens will take some time to digest. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will rely on Department expertise and this public input to develop management plans. This will include discussions of hunting seasons in areas with human conflict, harvest quotas, and hunting methods.

If anyone would still like to provide input they can provide written comments to the Department at the address below. Please make sure they include their name and mailing address or email address so Department staff can correspond with them in future mailings.

If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.