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Adopted wolf pack at Boise high school had 8 pups killed by feds, sparking outrage


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – Conservation groups in Idaho are speaking out against the “inhumane” killings on public lands of eight wolf pups that were part of the Timberline High School wolf pack.

Following the killings, representatives from several Idaho groups in August sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking that he “immediately suspend the killing of wolf pups on all public lands by the USDA’s federal agents.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture responded last week by saying the agency works to find “practical, humane, effective and environmentally safe solutions to wildlife problems or conflicts,” but lethal measures can be necessary.

Advocates said they are shocked and upset the Biden administration would support the killing of the pups, which they said came after complaints from a rancher.

“We are very concerned and believe that the Biden administration needs to step up and reinstate protection, because we know that Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are in an all-out frontal assault on wolves,” Dick Jordan, a former science teacher at Timberline High School and presidential science award recipient, told the Idaho Statesman. “Something has to be done. It’s inhumane, it’s unethical and it’s not ecologically sound.”


In the original letter to the Biden administration — signed by representatives from a number of groups, including the International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of Clearwater and the Center for Biological Diversity — the groups said they were “dismayed” to learn the USDA’s Idaho Wildlife Services federal agents were involved in the killing of the pups.

They said wolves were already “under attack” in Idaho following legislation passed earlier this year that expanded opportunities to kill the animals. The bill removes the 15-per-year limit on hunting and trapping wolves, and allows the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board to hire private contractors to kill wolves they believe are threats to livestock or wildlife.

“There is nothing biologically sound or socially acceptable about killing wolf pups on federal lands, especially when wolves are under significant eradication pressure,” the letter stated. “Wolf pups pose no threat to domestic livestock — in Idaho, or anywhere in the Western United States.”

In response, Jenny Lester Moffitt, the undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the USDA, wrote a letter saying that Wildlife Services “prefers to use nonlethal methods.”