Federal official, conservationist clash on wolf recovery
Nez Perce leader brings Native American perspective to wolf debate
Heberger of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, left, and Jaime Pinkham of the Nez Perce
tribe, talk about wolf recovery at the Wild Idaho! forum held at Redfish Lake over the
weekend. Express photo by Kevin Wiser. Federal official, conservationist clash on wolf
"Its not that wolves are good or bad, they just are."
Roy Heberger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Idaho
wolf recovery leader.
By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer
REDFISH LAKEAs the controversy surrounding wolf reintroduction heats
up in central Idaho, both sides are drawing battle lines with no compromise in sight.
Ranchers want more control actions to be carried out by the Fish and
Wildlife Service while conservationists demand a moratorium on the killing of wolves.
Amid the territory of the Stanley wolf pack, along the shores of Redfish
Lake, wolf recovery officials spoke at the Wild Idaho! 2000 forum Saturday before a
conservation-minded crowd upset about recent lethal control actions taken against the
neighboring Twin Peaks and White Cloud wolf packs.
In the hot seat Saturday afternoon were the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Services Idaho wolf recovery leader, Roy Heberger, and Nez Perce tribe spokesman
"For a lot of people, wolves are not predators, theyre a symbol
of their value system," Heberger said. "Others see them as ravaging monsters.
"I see them as a predator just as the mountain lion or grizzly
bear-an endangered species that needs to be recovered. Its not that wolves are
good or bad, they just are."
Since the beginning of this year, Heberger has authorized the killing of
four Twin Peak and five White Cloud wolf pack members following livestock depredations on
ranches in the East Fork of the Salmon River.
His decisions were sharply attacked by a widely known environmentalist
during an afternoon forum attended by more than 100 people on the shore of Redfish Lake.
"I stand here and Im outraged at what Roy has done,"
declared Lynne Stone, executive director of the Boulder-White Clouds Council, a
conservation group that supports the reintroduction of wolves into central Idaho.
"Lynne, you jumped to the bottom line," Heberger said. "It
might be good if you understood the process."
Heberger referred to the wolf management plan and guidelines for control
of problem packs that prey on livestock.
When a depredation is confirmed, Fish and Wildlife first attempts to
relocate the wolf, Heberger said, noting that there have been incidences where relocated
wolves have returned to their original territories to kill again.
He said he was pushing to give ranchers the use of non-lethal control
(rubber buckshot) to deal with problem wolves at any time. Currently, ranchers can shoot
wolves only when they are attacking livestock.
"If I had this tool, I probably wouldnt have had to go to
lethal control in the Twin Peaks and White Cloud packs," Heberger said.
"We dont think we have problem wolves," Stone retorted.
"We have problem ranchers and a problem managing agency."
The crowd howled like wolves.
When asked how he viewed the wolf, Pinkham said the wolf is a central
figure in Nez Perce legend and lore and a source of spiritual strength for the tribe.
The Nez Perce Nation has been designated by the U.S Fish and Wildlife
Service as a partner in the recovery plan.
In an interview following the forum, Pinkham, a member of the Nez Perce
Tribal Council, said the tribe is trying to ensure that recovery goals are met while being
sensitive to the concerns of ranchers.
"Our long term concern is that if we rely more and more on lethal
control, does that put our recovery goal in jeopardy?" Pinkham asked.
Pinkham said that from the tribes perspective, the wolf management
plan looks more like a control plan.
"We need to come up with ideas that are yet to be born on how to
reduce the conflicts between wolves and livestock," he said.
"Weve made some grave mistakes in our pioneering spirit,"
Pinkham said. "Unfortunately we tried to play God in the removal and decimation of
. I think we have a moral obligation to make things right, to try to restore
things back to their balance."
See environmentalist Lynne Stones guest editorial on Page A9.