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Animal Rights Groups Fight Wolf and Coyote Hunt in Idaho

Animal rights groups are speaking out against a private wolf and coyote hunt planned for Dec. 28 to 29 in Idaho.

The organizers of the “predator derby” say they do not expect many wolves to be killed, but “hope to take quite a few coyotes.”  Teams of youth hunters as young as 10 and their parents will win prizes for the biggest wolf killed, as well as the biggest and greatest number of coyotes killed.


The hunt will also raise awareness about wolf parasites that could spread to humans, the organizers say.


Organizations opposing the event insist that there is little evidence that wolf parasites pose a serious threat to humans in Idaho.  


Echinococcus granulosis, a tapeworm causing the most concern, naturally occurs in wildlife, said epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn to the Associated Press. “Precautions for Echinococcus are really no different than for a host of other diseases that occur naturally in the environment and can infect humans,” she said.


Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, called the hunt a “wolf massacre” that “takes us back to an earlier era of wanton killing.”   The opposition to this hunt epitomizes larger debates taking place over the preservation of gray wolf populations.


Gray wolves were once plentiful across the United States, but overhunting and the expansion of human settlements greatly reduced their numbers.  Placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the wolves’ population rose to over 5,300 in the lower 48 states today.


Gray wolves have successfully recovered, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In the past couple of years, the agency removed wolves from the endangered species list for the Northern Rocky Mountain and Western Great Lake areas, and public comment recently closed on measures that would take these wolves off the endangered list across the lower 48 states.


But animal rights and conservation groups, as well as some scientists,  argue that stripping gray wolves of their protection prematurely ends what had been a succesful recovery effort.


“Wolves currently inhabit only a fraction of their former range, and this proposal will cut off wolf recovery from vast areas of suitable habitat out west where the species can still thrive,”  Defenders of Wildlife president Jamie Rappaport Clark said in a press release. “Having just a few thousand wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes is a far cry from what many of us envisioned for gray wolf recovery when we embarked on this ambitious conservation effort nearly two decades ago.”


Sport hunters and trappers in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota and Wisconsin killed 1,705 wolves from April 2011 to August 2013, reports Predator Defense, a nonprofit that works to protect native predators.


To oppose the hunt in Idaho:


To advocate for gray wolf protection: