Thursday, June 15, 2006

Attacking the wolves- Idahoan Wants Offing Wolves on the Ballot

By Jennifer Gelband - New West

Stanley resident Ron Gillett has grandkids, and he doesn’t want them eaten by wolves. One option is to not send the kids to his house through the woods wearing red cloaks. Another option is to pledge to rid Idaho of all wolves. He’s going with the latter option.

Gillett is the president of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition. He spearheaded an attempt to place the wolf-elimination issue on the November 2006 ballot. Not only did he not succeed at getting it on the ballot, he failed with distinction, which can only mean that Idahoans must kinda have a thing for wolves.

To get the measure on the ballot, Gillette needed 47,881 signatures from registered Idaho voters. He fell short with only 40,000 signatures. In an interesting spin, it turns out only about 13,500 signatures were from registered voters, which can only mean that 26,500 sheep and elk dressed up as Idahoans and signed the initiative.

Gillett, completely undeterred, is trying again with the 2008 election in his sights.

Aside from the issue of safety to humans, Gillette’s also concerned about hunters in Stanley. He claims that wolves are thinning herds and people aren’t going to the area as often. Interestingly, Gillette is the owner of the Triangle C Ranch lodge in Stanley. "I only had four out-of-state hunters stay in (the Triangle C) last season," he told the Idaho Mountain Express. "I usually have between sixty and eighty hunters."

Idaho Fish and Game manages state wolf packs, and must maintain a minimum of fifteen packs. Wolves are protected federally, however, by the Endangered Species Act. F&G officials have asked for permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reduce wolf numbers in certain regions of the state. Their reason, according to biologists, is that wolf predation is a significant contributor to waning elk numbers may be preventing elk population recovery.

However, an Idaho Fish and Game rep told the Idaho Mountain Express that wolves are responsible for only about one percent of livestock depredations every year.

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