Federal agents search Hussey Ranch. Idaho congressionals angry

3/10/95.

On March 8, three armed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents searched the Idaho ranch property where wolf no. 13 was killed Jan. 29. The agents were trying to recover bullets or cartridges as leads to the killer.

The ranch field is owned by Salmon rancher Gene Hussey whose calf was believed to have been killed by wolf 13 before the wolf itself was shot by an unknown person. The hunt took place under a search warrant and under protests by Lemhi County (Idaho) officials.

In January, rancher Hussey said he found the wolf shot dead, lying next to his partially eaten newborn calf. Since no one knows who killed the wolf, the US Fish and Wildlife Service views the wolf kill as illegal. They are offering a *$5000 reward* for information leading to the conviction of the wolf killer.

The maximum penalty for the killer is a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Ironically, if Hussey or an employee of his had killed the wolf while it was attaching his livestock and reported the killing within 48 hours, the wolf kill would have been perfectly legal.

Lemhi County officials, especially the Lemhi County Sheriff, Brett Barsalou, protested the armed search. Idaho's congressional delega- tion is calling for a congressional hearing of the incident. Idaho US senator Larry Craig was reported to have said he was seeking a way to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service out of the law enforcement business. Craig said . . . "wildlife agencies are trying to usurp local law enforcement, rather than simply managing natural resources."

On Friday, March 10, the Idaho Falls Post Register strongly con- demned Senator Craig's statement in an editorial, "Craig, like feds, shoots first and asks questions later." The editorial also accused the Fish and Wildlife service of "gunboat diplomacy." The editorial was by Kevin Richert.

Yesterday, a Post-Register news story about the search said that Rancher Hussey's supporters "numbered in the thousands" in the two sparsely populated Idaho counties (Custer and Lemhi). These supporters are reportedly "furious" over the agents' show of force.

The Sheriff Barsalou told the "Post-Register" "I would say that any future working relationship with the Fish and Wildlife Service is his tory, and that's unfortunate. They brought it on themselves." Barsalou, according the the Post-Register, said he had offered to help coordinate with the Fish and Wildlife Service but was ignored.

In an article in the Post-Register in February, it was reported that Barsalou had blocked the government's planned release of wolves near the Yellowjacket Mine because of the presence of armed men in the area who might attack the wolf reintroduction team. The eleven wolves were instead flown into the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, deep in the FC-RNR Wilderness. It was one of these wolves that was later shot on Hussey's land.

The other 14 wolves appear to be doing fine. Two are in Montana, one has probably migrated to northern Idaho. The rest are in or near the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Two of the new wolves appear to have formed a pair.




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) 1995 Ralph Maughan
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