Why was Idaho-bound wolf shot?

1/28/96.

Various accounts in Idaho news disagree as to why
the big Idaho-bound wolf was shot in Missoula when
it grabbed a handler's thumb.

Some news reports attribute the shooting to U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service policy, but an article
in the "Idaho Statesman" (Boise) said that the
wolf was killed because Dave Hunter, an Idaho Fish
and Game veterinarian recommended it to Ed Bangs,
the director of the federal (US Fish and Wildlife
Service) wolf recovery team.

Because of its hostility to the wolf recovery effort,
last year the Idaho Legislature prohibited the Idaho
Fish and Game Dept. from having anything to do with
wolf reintroduction or recovery. It is, therefore,
surprising that an Idaho Fish and Game bet was allow-
ed to make such a recommendation (or any recommenda-
tion).

The wolves were captured in rabies-free area in NE
British Columbia. The "protocol" mentioned -- kill
any wolf that bites someone and test it for rabies
-- would not seem to make sense in this case, but
Bangs was reported as saying that killing the wolf
was the right thing to do because of the "remote
possibility that the animal had been bitten by a
rabid animal, perhaps a bat, during the five days
since its blood test." [Idaho Statesman, 1/25/96].
As I noted in a previous update, all of the wolves
were blood-tested when they were captured.

Bangs did say that this protocol (from wherever it
came) would be reconsiderd.

The biologist who was bitten received a puncture
wound and a broken thumb. As far as I can tell,
the wolf was shot later, not at the time of the
bite.

The Idaho Cattle Association, long-opposed to wolf
reintroduction weighed in. Rancher Bob Sears, its
executive director was quoted as saying it showed
"wolves are not warm and fuzzy." George Bennett,
also from the ICA said, "I'm happy to see eight
instead of nine [wolves] going in."

Despite Bennett's happiness, I believe additional
wolves went in today. A story on this will follow
when I get more information.

[This report is based on news stories in the
Lewiston Morning Tribune, the Idaho Statesman,
the [Idaho Falls] Post-Register, and personal
information.




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Ralph Maughan
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