Hunters Gear Up for Wolf 'Slaughter'

Congressional budget rider removes animals from endangered list

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 25, 2011 2:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – A massive wolf hunt is coming to the Rocky Mountain states now that Congress has quietly passed a budget rider ordering wolves be taken off endangered species lists everywhere but Wyoming. Since wolves were re-introduced to the region in 1994, their numbers have grown to 1,700, angering ranchers and hunters, who blame the wolves for reducing elk populations 20%. The governor of Idaho considered declaring a "wolf emergency" to allow the animals to be hunted, but Congress stepped in instead. "It took everybody a while to realize just how little support wolves had in Congress," said one wildlife activist.

"It's going to be ugly. They're talking about trapping, baiting, snaring, electronic calls," said a conservation group representative. "I'm trying to steel myself for it, figure out how I'm going to handle it. But I'm sitting here feeling like I'm living in a nightmare." But many hunters say their desire to cut down wolf populations is actually about animal welfare. "When I see a cow elk with her guts hanging out, and a little calf that's been hamstrung—I know I'm on the right side. No question about it," one Idaho resident told the Los Angles Times. "These wolves are the most cruel, vicious predators in North America."

Wolves have split western states into protectors and hunters.   (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, File)
A budget rider passed by Congress last week ordered the Department of the Interior to remove wolves from endangered species lists, leading activists to fear a wolf slaughter is coming soon.   (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, William Campbell, File)
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