Federal Agents Put Down Wolf Pups After Idaho High Schoolers ‘Adopt’ Them

by Matthew Memrick

Federal agents put down eight wolf pups once “adopted” by Idaho high schoolers for 18 years.

A Boise high school had tracked and studied the young animals, known to be part of the Timberline pack, since 2003. According to the East Idaho News, one rancher’s complaints led to the killings.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials killed the animals, saying it was a “necessary” measure to decrease predators. They consider many solutions to wildlife conflicts, but lethal options are always a possibility.

Laws Making Wolf Life Tough

According to the BBC, wolves in Idaho and Montana are “under attack,” thanks to lawmakers in those states. Livestock ranchers have worked to make it easier for hunting and killing wolves.

Hunters killed famous wolves from Yellowstone National Park that had wandered onto private property in Idaho recently.

Idaho’s law enables hunters to kill an infinite number of wolves each year while tripling the budget for population control efforts. The previous law called for a yearly 15-wolf limit. Wolves can be baited into traps, gunned down by aircraft, or even run over by hunters in ATVs or other vehicles.

Environmentalists say these tactics will bring the state’s wolf population down by 90 percent. Currently, the number stands at 1,500 wolves, with plans to bring it down to 150, a minimum limit set up by a 2002 conservation law.

Conservation Groups Not Happy

Once on the brink of extinction, federal laws took the Gray wolves were taken off the Endangered Species list in October of 2020. Since then, states have come up with their rules.

The Endangered Species Act of 1974 had worked to save species from extinction while establishing population recovery efforts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looks to protect birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses, and trees.

Supporters of Idaho’s wolf hunting laws are all about protecting wolf prey like cows, sheep, and other livestock. They say reducing the wolf numbers help farmers, cattleman, and others while giving hunters a better chance against the wolves.

Meanwhile, environmental groups say some of the killing methods are inhumane. The Humane Society of the United States called those methods “a death warrant for hundreds of Idaho’s iconic and beloved wolves.”

High Schoolers And The Pack

Boise National Forest lands were home to the Timberline wolf pack and its den. Over the spring, the wolves’ den was empty. The Timberline High schoolers had unofficially “adopted” the animals over the past 18 years.

An Agricultural Department official said federal agents killed the animals to get the adult wolves to leave the forest lands.

The students reportedly are drafting a letter to President Biden over the -pup deaths as man Idahoans want to see federal protections brought back. Several groups want federal authorities to “immediately suspend the killings of wolf pups on all public lands.”

“Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are in an all-out frontal assault on wolves,” Dick Jordan, a former science teacher at the school, told the local Idaho Statesman. “Something has to be done. It’s inhumane, it’s unethical, and it’s not ecologically sound.”

The Biden administration is reportedly considering relisting grey wolves on the Endangered Species List.