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Wolves: Moderation, not extermination
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Wolves: Moderation, not extermination

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The recent killing derby in Salmon, Idaho, the wolf extermination in the Frank Church Wilderness by Idaho Fish and Game, and wolf trapping cooperatives beg the question: Since delisting, is wolf management swinging too far from preservation to extermination, and, is it time for moderation?

With statewide elk populations healthy in both Montana and Idaho, and livestock depredations minor, isn’t it time the wolf is treated as a big game animal, not as an agent of the hated (unless we’re getting a handout) federal government? Isn’t it also time to peel off infantile bumper stickers such as, “Smoke a Pack a Day,” “Wolf, the Other Red Meat,” “America’s Terrorists – Canadian Wolves,” and the like?

Canadian-terrorist wolves? About as sensible as saying Canadian elk or Colorado elk are somehow a different species than Montana elk. Considering how far wolves travel, it’s obvious gene exchange has been quite fluid throughout western North America, the question long settled by biologists.

If there’s a place wolves should be allowed to live without excessive “management,” it’s the middle of the vast Frank Church. At 2.4 million acres, the “Frank” is almost two and a half times the size of the famed Bob Marshall, making it the perfect place for wolves to live without contact with civilization. Not so, though, with Idaho Fish and Game, which is undertaking pack exterminations due to an outfitter complaint.

Can we accept the wolf as the wild and intelligent animal it is and not vermin to be eradicated? In spite of what some would have you believe, the sky is not falling. It’s time moderate, thinking hunters and wildlife advocates take charge of this debate from the loud and aggressive extremists who are currently driving it. Write Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and call your commissioners.

Mike Koeppen, Florence

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