APNewsBreak: Gray wolves go back to state control

By Matthew Brown

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 4 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

"State biologists need to manage them like any other recovered species," said Tester, who worked with Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson to get the rider in the budget bill.

No hunts are planned immediately for small populations of wolves in Oregon, Washington and Utah.

In addition to the hunts, officials say wolves that attack livestock will continue to be removed by wildlife agents. More than 1,500 wolves have been killed for livestock attacks since the animals were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies from Canada in the 1990s.

Idaho state Rep. Judy Boyle, who sponsored a bill giving Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter the authority to declare a wolf disaster emergency, said hunting alone won't be enough to reduce the number of wolves to levels in which they aren't a threat to livestock or wildlife.

Under state management, Idaho will continue to ask federal wildlife agents to take out problem packs, including in north-central Idaho's Lolo area, where the state wants to kill dozens of wolves to help restore elk herds that have been hurt by predators and poor habitat, she said.

Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have plans meant to keep the populations at healthy levels while allowing government agents to kill animals that can't be driven away. None would allow hunting or trapping for at least five years, although states could revise those plans.

Wednesday's announcement leaves the fate of about 340 wolves in Wyoming unresolved. Wyoming was carved out of attempts to restore state control over wolves because of a state law that would allow the animals to be shot on sight in most of the state.

Salazar and his staff have been negotiating for months over the issue with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

Mead said Wednesday that he was hoping for an agreement with the administration to get a bill through Congress lifting protections in his state. The governor suggested legislation that was the only way to prevent lawsuits from environmentalists that could otherwise derail the effort.


Associated Press writer John Miller in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this story.

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