Legal Petition Seeks Ban On Shooting Wolves From Helicopters In Idaho’s National Forests

Photo by Gary Kramer/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wildlife conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Forest Service this week to prohibit the aerial gunning of wildlife in national forests in Idaho. The petition follows the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board’s controversial approval of proposals from private contractors to horrifically shoot wolves from aircraft across millions of acres in central and southeastern Idaho.

“Killing wolves from helicopters is barbaric and scientifically unjustifiable, and we can’t let it happen in our national forests,” said Andrea Zaccardi, carnivore conservation legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Our nation’s public lands should not be killing fields. The Forest Service needs to ban this practice to protect public safety, recreation, and imperiled animals.”

Three of five proposals approved by the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board were presented by Trevor Walch, who operates the Predator Control Corp. According to public records, Mr. Walch violated numerous state wildlife protection laws in Nevada, including leaving animals suffering in unattended traps for up to 13 days.

“Some of the ranchers he claimed to represent work with us on the Wood River Wolf Project in the Sawtooth National Forest. We’ve never had significant livestock losses in the area since the project began implementing proactive livestock protection methods sixteen years ago. The ranchers immediately denied making any agreement with Mr. Walch or the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, co-founder of the Wood River Wolf Project. “If the Department of Agriculture goes forward with their grants, they may well cause more predation problems where few to none currently exist.”

Although the board claims killing wolves is necessary to protect livestock, elk, and deer, many of the areas where the board authorized wolf killing have not experienced recent wolf predations on livestock and have elk and deer populations that exceed objectives.

“The board authorized wolf killing even in areas without any recent conflicts with livestock, elk, or deer populations, which shows just how bogus this whole effort is,” said Talasi Brooks of Western Watersheds Project. “This is essentially illegal sport hunting from aircraft and there is no reason for the government to allow the state’s anti-science bloodlust for wolves to be slaked on federally-managed lands.”

“This practice not only jeopardizes but also punishes wolf populations in the state, despite the absence of recent livestock attacks in many of the areas. The state should be ashamed and embarrassed to hire a contractor – Trevor Walch, who has a long history of trapping violations and inhumane trapping practices,” said Leslie Williams and Samantha Attwood, founding members of The #RelistWolves Campaign. “Other state wildlife agencies have sought to revoke his license due to his blatant illegal activities. We urge the U.S. Forest Service to take swift action to prohibit this barbaric method of harassing and slaughtering wolves.”

This week’s legal petition asks the Forest Service to immediately ban the shooting of wildlife from aircraft. Should the Forest Service fail to promptly grant the petition, the groups may consider legal action in federal court.

Please take action by asking your representatives to put pressure on Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and President Biden to #RelistWolves, HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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