Idaho Wolves A No Go For Colorado Reintro

Count out another state’s wolves for Colorado.

Idaho has joined Wyoming in denying the donation request for a voter-mandated reintroduction effort that is supposed to start by the end of this year, putting more pressure on the remaining donor states for the 10 to 15 wolves Colorado annually needs for three to five years.


“Under the current litigation, ESA, and social framework, we do not believe providing wolves for translocation is in the best interests of Idaho,” wrote IDFG Director Jim Fredericks in a June 6 letter to his counterpart in Colorado, Jeff Davis.

He said that if the effects of successfully bringing wolves into Colorado could be confined to that state’s borders and the animals were subject to only state management, it might be different.

“Unfortunately, Idaho’s experience leads us to conclude that negative impacts of wolves sent to Colorado will not stay in Colorado,” Fredericks wrote.

He said that his state has “paid an enormous price to have wolves on the landscape” in terms of “significant” management costs since the mid-1990s introductions to Central Idaho wilderness and Yellowstone National Park.

And then there’s the “immeasurable, but very significant costs to the broader endeavor of wildlife conservation,” an overlooked aspect.

“Now more than ever, durable wildlife conservation involves people with differing values working together to achieve shared objectives. Private landowners, particularly the livestock industry and other agricultural producers, are critical to the future of conservation, even in states with large amounts of public lands. Collaborative conservation efforts are built on trusting relationships. In Idaho’s experience, the prolonged inability to delist wolves under the ESA and strong disagreements over how they should be managed have fostered mistrust and social conflict among our rural communities, hunters, trappers, other outdoor recreation users, agricultural interests, wolf advocates, conservation organizations, and governmental entities. The result is a strain on many of the very relationships that are critical to future conservation efforts,” Fredericks wrote.

He also touched on eternally ongoing litigation over the listing status of wolves, despite their wild success in the Northern Rockies and his state.

“Even today, more than 10 years after delisting, litigation involving Idaho wolves continues, and the Service is considering a petition for re-listing, despite populations that remain robust and resilient. We are justifiably concerned that the implications of ESA-litigation related to the translocation of wolves into Colorado will not be isolated to Colorado,” he wrote.

Fredericks letter came after “careful consideration and conferring with (Idaho) Governor Little,” he stated.

It means Colorado is down to three preferred donor states in the Northern Rockies with federally delisted wolves, and yesterday one of those gave off somewhat mixed messages.

Citing an ongoing periodic status review of Washington wolves, among other factors, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission didn’t express much enthusiasm about participating for the time being, but did want to at least learn more from Colorado.

There have, however, been Governor’s Office to Governor’s Office discussions about it, Washington Governor Jay Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said, though she said they had no commitments or positions at the moment.

The Centennial State is also looking for wolves from Oregon.

“We did receive a request from Colorado to discuss Oregon as a potential source,” stated ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy, “and we are planning to meet with them to get more information on their needs and to discuss what a process might look like. No decision yet.”

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks was queried this morning about its current stance, but did not reply. However, a spokesman told KUOW for a June 28 story that “We are not in any conversation about translocating wolves anywhere.”