Idaho wolf recovery leader Roy Heberger retires on July 3. Express
photo by Ron Soble
Idaho wolf recovery leader to retire
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Idahos wolf recovery program is about to lose its leader.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife official Roy Heberger will
retire on July 3, after five years at the controversial programs helm.
"Im going to miss it," Heberger, 55, said in a Monday
telephone interview. "I really like what Im doing, but Im not leaving
anything. Im going to something. I just know that Ill do it on my terms
A replacement has not yet been hired.
Heberger has made a living in natural resources management, and he said he
will probably end up working during his retirement as a natural resources activist.
"I see more finger pointing going on than solution finding. I see it
at every level," he said.
Helping to facilitate resolution on controversial natural resources issues
will be a retirement goal, Heberger said.
On the states wolf program and where hes leaving it, Heberger
said "theres a long way to go yet."
"The social differences [in Idaho] are so engrained. Its just
going to be a social clash," he said. "But before you ever get to a solution,
you have to experience the best and the worst of the democratic process. Its always
good to try to understand the other persons viewpoint."
One of Hebergers most difficult moments was his recent decision to
eradicate the White Cloud wolf pack near the East Fork of the Salmon River.
The pack had been preying on cattle. Hebergers final decision came
after discussions with federal and state officials and individuals involved in the wolf
As for his successor, Heberger said the individual will have to deal with
the everyday "bumps in the road" while keeping an eye on the wolf recovery
"Its a day-to-day management thing," he said. "On any
given day of the week, your whole day can change with the first phone call. To me
"The whole program is just problem solving. Its finding
solutions and getting through the bumps in the road, and there are going to be a lot more
bumps in the road before we get to wolf recovery."
Heberger, a self-declared people person, said dealing with the people of
Idaho has been one of the most pleasurable aspects of his job over the past five years.
But the people also help manifest the more stressful aspects, too, he
"Human beings, on balance, are pretty good folks," he said.
"If thats been the down side, its not all that bad."
And the people of Idahothe best and the worst of Hebergers
day-to-day job activitiesare also going to pose the best and worst for Idahos
wolves, he said.
"I dont see wolf recovery as a biological challenge at
all," he said. "As long as people tolerate the wolves were going to make
it. Whats going to be the real challenge are the social capacities. Wolves are going
to be limited by human tolerance, not by habitat or food."