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‘De-listing is a meaningless term’
Anti-wolf speakers criticize lack of action, policies at Grangeville rally

 

Free Press/David Rauzi
District 8 Senator Skip Brandt addresses the nearly 100 people who attended Saturday’s anti-wolf rally. Waiting behind are (L-R) District 8A Representative Ken Roberts, coalition Grangeville chapter organizer Dan Fowler and Idaho County Commissioner Pat Holmberg. 

By David Rauzi

   GRANGEVILLE -- Speaking to a crowd in Grangeville last Saturday, Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition chairman Ron Gillett was direct on the action needed to remove this controversial predator.
   "Get red-faced," he said, when talking to your legislative representatives. "Ask them, 'When are you going to get the wolves out? Today? Tomorrow?'" He criticized the excuse used by some legislators that 'It's a federal law' in justifying their inaction, saying "If you can't do your job we'll find someone who can."
   Nearly 100 people attended the coalition's afternoon "wolf alert" meeting at the Grangeville Elementary Middle School gymnasium, which also featured presentations by Senator Skip Brandt and Representative Ken Roberts, both of District 8 (which includes Idaho County). The meeting, sponsored by the the coalition's Grangeville chapter, was to provide information concerning the Canadian Grey Wolf controversy and the group's efforts to have them removed from the state.
   Numerous Idaho County residents have reported sightings and/or problems (i.e. livestock and domestic animal mauling/killings; depletion of big game herds) with the wolves within the past few years. Spurred by local concern, the Idaho County Commission on Feb. 9 passed an anti-wolf resolution which supports wolf removal from the county "by any means necessary."
   "De-listing is a meaningless term, political pabulum," said Montana resident Bob Fanning, chair of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd.
   Fanning pulled no punches on his opinion that the American public has been misled by the state fish and game agencies in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming where wolf reintroduction has been implemented. Explaining their conflict of interest in the wolf issue, he said state agencies are beholden to U.S. Fish and Wildlife which provides them a portion of their funding.
   "Why was our fish and game trying to drag us into this? Because they get money for it, they get power for it," Fanning said.
   From his research, Fanning said wolf control is already established through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
   "Ag law trumps the ESA [Endangered Species Act]," he said. "We don't need to beg for de-listing."
   Fanning stated a disproportionate burden has been placed on residents in these states due to efforts in both environmental groups and public agencies that have been more about "driving 30,000 ranchers off public lands," Fanning stated as one quoted reason, than about wolf reintroduction.
   More than just compensation, "we want punitive damages," Fanning said, "...we want those responsible for sterilizing the Yellowstone ecosystem behind bars."
   Both Brandt and Roberts asked for public action on the issue to convince other officials and legislators to support wolf efforts.
   Emphasizing local not federal control, Brandt said, "The state of Idaho needs the management umbrella over these predators," adding that if it wants the Nez Perce Tribe to manage wolves it needs to be done through a contract, "so that if they're not doing it correctly we can cancel it."
   According to coordinator for the coalition's Grangeville chapter Dan Fowler, follow-up Wolf Alert meetings are being planned in Riggins, Elk City and McCall. A dinner and auction fund-raiser for the chapter is scheduled for March 27 at Kooskia. In the interim, he will be making a presentation to the Nez Perce County Commission next Monday morning.
   "We're going to be showing them what our county has done and go from there," Fowler said.