Anyway, back in the day when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought species back (You remember the mid 1990s), I remember reading a point in the whole wolf reintroduction report that basically had me signing on to the endeavor. It was a brief discussion on how reintroducing an apex predator into the ecosystem would affect far more than just the elk population and distribution, but the wolves would have positive effects on coldwater fisheries, as well, as the elk and other ungulates would no longer spend all day browsing all the riparian border foliage down to the nub. I was living in Kentucky then, and at about the exact same time Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park were getting those wolves, Kentucky was getting elk from the Rockies (and now, quickly, if you want to hear a nightmare scenario, those elk and domesticated elk that went east or were born in the east now have eastern ungulate diseases and now those elk, possibly with extremely terrible and fatal diseases, can be reintroduced at these non-sporting "Kill a Bull in a Fenced in Area" operations and can introduce eastern ungulate diseases into wild western herds that stop by the fence to say, "Hello, where have you been?", or at least the potential is there).
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, wolves make elk and deer nervous and now the elk and deer aren't standing on the stream bank eating all the shade. And everyone should know that it is a whole lot hotter in the sunshine than it is in the shade. Therefore, if you've got something that helps keep the shade hanging over the streams, you've got something that is keeping the water cooler than say before when all we had were jelly and bread, I mean elk and deer.
I was fishing recently along the South Fork of the Salmon River. Ever since those catastrophic forest fires in 2007, you can stand at any prominent point and see for miles. And while you are doing this, you can see this great river doesn't have much shade, if any at all (save the angles created from the topography). It was during those extremely hot days we had here in central Idaho, but I was wearing a jacket in the morning because it was chilly, but then the sun came out and I had flop sweat (Yes, I know, gross, right?) in a matter of minutes. That got me thinking yet again just how important those wolves really are, especially in these days of increasing warmth, you know Climate Change.
I was going to write about that sockeye "recovery" plan, but I handled that last year and now really all that matters is how fast it can be declared illegal in a federal courtroom. Shouldn't be too long. So, I was reading (it always gets me in trouble) and I was reminded that July 27 is the comment deadline for the environmental assessment for Predator Damage and Conflict Management in Idaho. You know the document that maps out the "justification" for Idaho Wildlife Services.
I'll be honest, I am not against hunting predators. I can see the need to hunt predators for population control and if you really like eating mountain lion, bear and wolf, then all the power to you, go out and validate your tag and have roast wolf or leg of lion or bear brisket for Thanksgiving dinner or Tuesday's lunch (but I'll decline any invitation). I am against trophy hunting and while there still are markets for fur, I have never been one who has ever championed adornment. And I am against those who kill wolves simply because they hate wolves or more correctly hate that their government actually did something to help the environment that they didn't like a long, long time ago (you know 20 years ago) in a wilderness far, far away.
So, unlike many of my fellow huggers out there, I can see a very limited need for these hired hitmen, but only when predators threaten people (rarely happens, almost never by wolves), pets and livestock on private land only. I don't see why a government agency should exist for the sole purpose to satisfy one industry or to exist to allow one industry to not employ the proper number of employees to keep their livestock safe. I am not in favor of helicopter gunships being called in because on Rancher A's weekly or monthly check on his livestock he turned out on an allotment on public land to fend for themselves revealed a couple of dead animals. It's an inappropriate response, first and foremost, and secondly any public agency should answer to all of the people and not just one special interest constituency. And I guess the elephant in the room is the fact that this being America or Murica (however you pronounce it) there's got to be some level of personal accountability here by the livestock owner. Hire people to stay with your livestock (sheep ranchers do this) and I guess to all those turning livestock out on public lands, hire enough people to mitigate the predator threat to your livestock. I know that costs a lot and livestock really aren't that lucrative, which kind of makes a stronger point here about appropriate response. It seems rather inappropriate to have an entire government agency equipped with an air force and guns (not to mention the ground forces with the traps and poisons) to go about performing retribution killings over livestock losses that are marginal when you consider the gross and the net at the end of the day.
Admittedly, I'm a bit wordy tonight and it is because of section 2.3 in the document I have shared below. To me, it seems that they intentionally did not go into specifics about all the relevant and important points and they did that, well I have my beliefs, you have yours and let's leave it at that.