Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Idaho wilderness needs good neighbors

    The front-page article in the Dec. 17th Idaho Statesman, “Idaho Fish and Game turns to hired hunter,” deserves a response.
    A hired hunter with the intent of killing two wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness has been sanctioned by the Idaho Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Forest Service. I find it ironic that on the eve of the 50th anniversary celebration of passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, Idaho Fish and Game has decided to kill two family wolf packs in our wilderness. A key provision of the Wilderness Act Public Law 88-577, Sec.2(c) defines wilderness: “A wilderness … is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man ...” It is obvious that wolves are in the community of life, but killing entire wolf packs seems to go beyond the provision of acceptable hunting in wilderness.
    Last summer, in search of our wilderness wildlife, I backpacked into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. I trekked over 32 miles to the Chamberlain Basin and camped for 10 days in this precious wilderness. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the landscape and photographing its scenic beauty, but regret not being able to experience wild nature at its best. I saw very few signs of wolves and did not even hear howling wolves. The great conservationist, Aldo Leopold (known as the father of wildlife management), writes about “a fierce green fire dying” in the eyes of a wolf he killed as a hunter in the 1920s. For the rest of his life, he never forgot that moment: “I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise ..., I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” Maybe, Idaho Fish and Game’s hired hunter will come to the same conclusion.
Ron Marquart

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