A second wolf was shot to death in the mountains north of Fairfield. B-96, the alpha male from the Smoky Mountain pack, was recovered on Dec. 4 near Lick Creek in Camas County. The tribe's aerial monitoring efforts indicated the wolf was last seen Nov. 22. Another male, B-57, was found dead Nov. 23, about 10 miles from where B-96 was discovered. "If wolves continue to be injured or killed, Idaho will not reach its recovery goal, which means wolves will remain an endangered species for a longer time," Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Paul Weyland said. The service has offered a $2,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the killing, and the Defenders of Wildlife group chipped in another $2,000. "What the killers don't realize, or don't care about, is that they are undermining the hard work of ranchers, conservationists and others on gray wolf recovery, pushing off further any chance of removing the strict protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act," said Suzanne Laverty, Defenders Northwest representative. Killing an animal protected under the Endangered Species Act is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and one year in jail. Fish and Wildlife asks anyone who noticed suspicious behavior in the area between Nov. 7 and Dec. 2 to call (208) 378-5333.
In an unanimous decision Dec. 12, the Constitutional Defense Fund Council voted to hire an outside law firm to battle the federal government over its decision to reintroduce grizzly bears along the Idaho-Montana border. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to release at least 25 grizzly bears into the Bitterroot Mountains along the border. It plans to locate the bears, many of them from Canada, into the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness areas over five years. "This could be a precedent-setting case," said L. Michael Bogert, counsel to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. He added that the council -composed of the governor, Attorney General Al Lance, House Speaker Bruce Newcomb and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Geddes -wants its anti-grizzly legal team in place as soon as possible. "We oppose the introduction of this flesh-eating, antisocial animal," Gov. Kempthorne said. The combined 4 million acres makes up the largest block of wilderness in the Rocky Mountains south of Canada. Contact with humans in the region is unlikely, federal officials say. The plan puts the bears under the oversight of a 15-member citizen committee, including a member chosen by the tribe. There are about 1,100 bears in five populations scattered through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington.