Op-Ed: Idaho wolf/coyote killing derby wants double the area for hunt

Posted Sep 29, 2014 by Karen Graham
Salmon, Idaho may be a small town by anyone's standards, with a little over 3,000 people, but they have big ideas. Located in the middle of the state along the banks of the Salmon River, it is famous for fishing, rafting, and now, wolf hunting.
According to the description on the video   These are a few of the true conservationists who take th...
According to the description on the video, "These are a few of the true conservationists who take the time to manage predators."
Screen grab
Last year, Salmon, Idaho held their first annual Predator Derby on December 28-29. The news of the derby was condemned by people all over the world. Threatening letters and emails poured in, many with threats of bodily harm. But one Salmon resident, Billijo Beck defended the hunt, saying it was just the way they lived. "If you look up the definition of murder, it's defined in human terms. Not in animal terms,” said Beck.
After winning a court challenge allowing them to hold their hunt last year, the group is holding their 2nd Annual Predator Derby on Jan. 2-3. 2015. There is one difference though. They want to expand the killing zone to almost double the size it was last year. They have petitioned the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for approval.
Today the BLM said they would issue an environmental analysis on Thursday, and then take public comment for 15 days before issuing an answer. The contested area involves around 1,500 square miles. Environmental groups are saying they will protest the permit.
The group behind the killing derby, Idaho for Wildlife, is the same group that hosted the derby last year. At that derby, a number of activists and a journalist, Christopher Ketcham infiltrated the hunt. Ketcham wrote a scathing story, "How to kill a wolf," for Vice. In the story, Ketcham describes a "good old boy" local who bought his group a round of drinks at a local bar. Cal Black then told the "supposed hunters" to “Gut-shoot every goddamn last one of them wolves."
For those of you who wonder why a gut-shot is recommended, it's the best way to kill a wolf, but the death is prolonged. Sick, yes. But that's what these guys like to do. The only thing killed last year, besides a lot of hot air and liquor, was 21 coyotes, but no wolves. No one claimed the $1,000 prize.
Idaho for Wildlife is a supposedly patriotic organization, wrapped in the flag and espousing American ideals. Dedicated to the preservation of Idaho's wildlife.The group also states they will "fight against all legal and legislative attempts by animal-rights and anti-gun organizations who are attempting to take away our rights and freedoms under the Constitution of the United States of America."
Interestingly, the group says they believe that wildlife management should be governed by science. This leads to the obvious question: How many cattle are actually killed by wolves? This seems to be the main reason hunters in Idaho are so emphatic about being allowed to hunt wolves. Science does have answers to the question of cattle deaths, and Idaho for Wildlife may not be too happy with what science has to say.
According to the group, Wildlife Guardians, one of the biggest myths associated with cattle is that predators are responsible for high numbers of cattle deaths. The facts speak for themselves. The number of deaths due to wolves and dogs was less than a quarter of one-percent in 2010.
Wildlife Guardians used statistics from federal government sources in compiling their data, and they found that the real killer of cattle in the whole of the U.S. is weather and illnesses. This group claims that the livestock predation myth is a lie being perpetrated on the American public by the USDA-Wildlife Services. Interesting thought, no?
Every five years the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an arm of the USDA publishes a cattle inventory and list of losses. The last report, in May of 2011 showed that in 2010, cattle inventory in the U.S. dipped to 94 million. head, down from 104.5 million in 2005. The NASS report showed: "The top five killers of cattle are respiratory problems (over one million); digestive problems (505,000); complications while calving (494,000); weather (489,000); and “unknown” non-predator causes (435,000). Non-predator cattle losses totaled nearly four million cattle. Respiratory, digestive, and calving problems and weather issued caused 64% of all cattle mortality."
Unintended cattle losses by rank.
Data from NASS  2011
Unintended cattle losses by rank. Data from NASS, 2011
2010 cattle predation by species
Data from NASS  2011.
2010 cattle predation by species Data from NASS, 2011.
According to the NASS, cattle predators included the following: coyotes, cougars, bobcats, lynx, dogs, wolves, vultures, bears and "others." Only 220,000 or 0.23 percent of the total cattle losses could be attributed to "predators," and that includes wolves. Wolves killed 8,100 cattle, while pumas, bobcats, and lynx killed 18,900 cattle.
So what is the real reason behind the thirst for killing wolves? It has to be more than just a minuscule number of cattle deaths. If science is supposed to speak loudly enough to be heard by the Idaho for Wildlife group, then why aren't they listening?