Equilibrium & Sustainability

Feds kill 8 wolf pups from pack tracked for years by Idaho high school students


Pups from a wolf pack tracked by students at an Idaho high school for almost two decades were killed this past year by a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), The Washington Post reported Monday.

A wolf “mortality list” from Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game showed that pups in the Boise National Forest’s Timberline pack were killed by the USDA’s Wildlife Services branch, according to the Post.

The list was reportedly obtained after biologists noticed an unusually empty den in an Idaho national forest that was home to a pack of wolves that had been tracked by Timberline High School students in Boise since 2003.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) in May signed into law a bill that permitted private contractors to kill 90 percent of the state’s wolf population. The Post reported that officials estimate that equates to about 1,500 wolves.

Wolf conservationist groups asked the USDA in August to “immediately suspend the killing of wolf pups on all public lands,” according to the Post.

Jenny Lester Moffitt, the USDA’s undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs, responded in a letter to the groups on Oct. 1 that “lethal control methods” were sometimes required to manage wolf populations, the Post reported.

“While we understand your objections, it is important that our management professionals have access to all available tools to effectively respond to wildlife depredation,” Moffitt wrote. “As such, we cannot stop using any legal, humane management options, including the lethal removal of juvenile wolves.”

Moffitt confirmed that the department killed eight “juvenile wolves” that were attacking livestock. The letter also said that killing the pups encouraged the adult wolves to leave and resulted in fewer killings overall.

The Hill has reached out to USDA for comment.

Wolf conservationist Suzanne Asha Stone told The Post that “there’s essentially been generations of Timberline wolves in the same area.”

“The kids have been following generations of this same pack,” Stone added of the high school students.

The students intend to write to President Biden to request that gray wolves return to the Endangered Species list, the Post reported.

One of the students, Michel Liao, told the Post he wanted the wolves on the list until “Idaho’s politicians can prove they’re able to manage wolves without killing them off.”

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