Montana Public Radio

Conservation Groups Threaten Lawsuit Over Wolf Monitoring Program

Mar 9, 2016

Five conservation groups want to extend a five year federal wolf monitoring program in Idaho and Montana. Those groups put the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on notice Wednesday that the monitoring program should be extended another 5 years. And they’re willing to sue to make it happen.

Gary Macfarlane of Idaho’s Friends of the Clearwater group says threats to wolves are increasing in both Idaho and Montana.

“Just recently here in the Clearwater, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game got Wildlife Services to go up and aerially gun wolves in parts of the Lochsa and North Fork Clearwater River drainages. There’s no livestock up in those areas.”

The groups maintain both states are needlessly reducing wolf populations through sport hunting, even in remote areas. Federal officials say states are allowed to reduce their wolf numbers as long as those populations stay above recovery goals.

Opponents, like Macfarlane, say those goals were too low to begin with.

"Secondly, there’s a very recent paper that suggests what’s happening there is going to jeopardize wolves – what’s happening on the ground. We need to look at that and that’s a reason we’re asking for this (extended) monitoring"

The five groups that signed onto the joint notice of intent to sue are: Friends of the Clearwater, The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands and the Missoula-based WildWest Institute.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 60 days to respond to the letter of intent.