Wildlife officials to kill wolves in remote Idaho region



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LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Federal wildlife services and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials have joined forces to kill wolves in the Clearwater Region for the third year in a row.

The Lewiston Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1Se4srO ) that elk herds have been struggling in the remote country for nearly two decades.

"Our policy is to not release information out of concern for operation safety until after an action is complete," said Mike Keckler, an Idaho Fish and Game spokesman at Boise.

But that policy was ignored when an environmental group called Defenders of Wildlife announced the action in a news release and asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop it.

Defenders of Wildlife at Boise member Suzanne Stone said the decision was unfairly biased against wolves.

"Killing wolves in the Lolo district of the Clearwater National Forest is a decision based almost entirely on Idaho's extreme anti-wolf politics and not sound science. Aerial gunning of wolves is an expensive waste of precious taxpayer dollars," she said.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Friends of the Clearwater also condemned the action.

Todd Grimm, director of Wildlife Services' Idaho operations, said people's emotions surrounding wolves can spur strong and even violent reactions. He said he received an impassioned and angry phone call about the wolves shortly after the environmental groups issued their news release.

"I'm not real happy with the way Defenders is putting this out instead of fish and game. We have already had one extremely violent phone call from somebody in Florida because of this press release," he said. "People have very passionate views about wolves, and sometimes that drives them to make the wrong decision."

Last year 19 wolves were killed in the area and 23 were shot in 2014. According to the state's latest wolf population report, the Lolo zone had a minimum of 38 wolves, including six documented packs and five other wolf groups at the end of 2014.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

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