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Public Response on Idaho's Clearwater Wolf Reduction Plan tabulated

March 1, 2006

A huge number of public comments were sent to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on their proposal to reduce wolves by about 75% for five years in two large hunting units in North Central Idaho. Moreover, the comments were overwhelmingly against the plan.

On March 2, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet and decide whether to pursue this plan any further and thus submit it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their approval or disapproval. It is possible it will be sent in a modified form on the basis of public comments, sent with no changes, or abandoned for the time being.

42,419 comments were received during the 3 week comment period. 41,738 of the comments, primarily sent via email, were the result of a the massive effort by the Defenders of Wildlife. Because these comments were generated from a suggested letter, most of them were similar. 682 other individuals sent testimony by email, came from oral presentations in the two public hearings, or were received by surface mail. These 682 responses listed 822 concerns.

Essentially all of the Defender's comments were against the proposal. The report on the public comments stated " Of those 822 concerns, comment or suggestions, 558 tended to be in opposition to the proposal, while 264 favored it, a ratio of just over two opposing opinions for every one in support. If only the number of commenters is considered as opposed to the number of opinions, issues or suggestions that each raised, then the raw numbers are 420 opposing to 225 in favor, a ratio of 1.9:1.

Most of the comments were not from residents of Idaho, but those from Idaho were also highly opposed to the plan.

The analysis also looked in detail at the comments from seventeen organizations with members in Idaho whoprepared written comments, including the Office of the Governor and the Nez Perce Tribe. Your can read the analysis in link to the actual report at the bottom of this page. Unfortunately, this analysis was incomplete and wrong in some cases. For example, the comments of the Wolf Recovery Foundation, which I wrote and emailed were apparently never analyzed, nor were those of the Western Watersheds Project, headquartered in Hailey, Idaho. Like the WWP, the Wolf Recovery Foundation is an Idaho incorporated non-profit organization. In addition the comments from the Idaho Wildife Federation were listed as "in favor of the project," when from what I have learned, the IWF stated that the proposal did not provide enough data.

Because the WRF's comments addressed the critical issue of sample size, and this matter does not show up as a "theme" in the comments analysis, I feel the analysis is seriously flawed. Because their sample size of dead cow elk was so small, I believe no reliable conclusions about the rate of wolf predation in the elk population can be made. Therefore, that alone should end the project for now until more sample data is collected over the next several years.

So in conclusion, public response was overwhelmingly against the proposal, including that from Idaho residents. Errors and omissions were made in the analysis of the comments by Idaho based organizations.

Here is the analysis report (pdf file). "Idaho Department of Fish and Game Proposal to Reduce Wolf Numbers In the Lolo Elk Management Zone Analysis of Public Comments." By Northwest Natural Resource Group, LLC.

3-2-2006. Public protests wolf-kill proposal Idaho plan draws 42,419 comments, strongly negative. By Christopher Smith, Associated Press.

Copyright © 2006 Ralph Maughan

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Ralph Maughan PO Box 8264, Pocatello, ID 83209
Wolf Recovery Foundation, PO Box 444, Pocatello, ID 83204