Idaho Helicopter Ruling a Victory for Wilderness, Wildlife

as published on The Idaho Statesman

“BLM; Take Note!” ~ R.T.


“It is intolerable that agencies entrusted with enforcing our laws are themselves wantonly violating them…”

collared-wolfConservation groups cheered when a federal judge ruled last month that the Forest Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game violated federal law by landing helicopters in an Idaho wilderness area to attach tracking collars to elk and wolves. The court also ordered the data gathered through these illegal activities destroyed. The now-halted project gives every appearance of an unscientific witch hunt, tailor-made to scapegoat wolf predation as the cause of elk population declines and to justify a wolf-killing program in wilderness.

During the 1980s, a controversy raged in Alaska over whether wolves caused the decline of the Nelchina caribou herd. Vic Van Ballenberghe, a Forest Service scientist, re-examined the issue and discovered that harsh winters started the Nelchina herd on a downward trajectory. Failing to recognize the decline, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game made it worse with overharvest. Ultimately, the scientific community concluded that weather and hunting — not wolves — caused the caribou herd’s decline. Now history is repeating itself in Idaho.

Wilderness was always intended to be wild and free from human control. Here, according to the lyrical requirements of the law itself, wilderness is directed by law to encompass land “retaining its primeval character and influence,” “affected primarily by the forces of nature,” which is “untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Turning a wilderness into a heliport with helicopter landings, fitting out elk and wolves with thick leather necklaces, and ultimately waging an air war against wolves, are unnatural in every respect and completely incompatible with wilderness values…(CONTINUED)

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article134378629.html#storylink=cpy

Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist published in the science of ungulate behavior and population dynamics, and is the executive director of Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit environmental group.

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