The US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Service Branch has killed eight pups in a pack of wolves that high school students in Idaho have followed for the past 18 years.
Conservationists at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, learned of the Timberline killing of wolf pack pups after they received a “mortality list” of wolves from the State Department of Fish and Game, reports reported The Washington Post. The school adopted the wolf pack in 2003.
The incident came months after Idaho Governor Brad Little signed law allowing private contractors to kill 90 percent of the state’s estimated 1,500 wolves. Legislators backing the Republican governor’s move argued the measure was needed to reduce attacks on livestock and strengthen herds of deer and elk.
The bill allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves and provides state officials with additional funding to hire the contractors, according to the Associated press.
The law also lists the methods by which wolves can be killed – chasing, trapping, capturing, chasing them with snowmobiles, and shooting them down from helicopters. It also legalized the killing of a newborn puppy if found on private land.
In August, wolf groups wrote to the Department of Agriculture asking it to stop killing wolf pups on public land. The department denied the request.
In an October 1 letter, Jenny Lester Moffitt, the USDA’s Under-Secretary of State for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, defended the killing of eight “juvenile wolves” and said they were attacking livestock.
Ms. Moffitt called them “deadly control methods” and said killing juvenile wolves encourages “adult wolves to relocate, thereby reducing the total number of wolves that need to be removed”.
Dick Jordan, a former science teacher at Timberline High School, criticized the decision by federal agents at the USDA’s Idaho Wildlife Service to kill the pups. “We are very concerned and believe that the Biden government must step up and restore protection because we know Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are carrying out a full-scale frontal attack on wolves,” he said Idaho statesman.
The killings began after the Trump administration removed wolves from the Endangered Species Act’s list in October 2020 on the grounds that the population had recovered sufficiently and therefore no longer warranted protection. The species was federally protected for more than 45 years after its extinction in 48 states.
According to a study published in July, up to a third of gray wolves in Wisconsin were killed in the months after the federal government announced the end of legal protection. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin found that the nationwide wolf population fell from 1,034 in the spring of 2020 to between 695 and 751.