By Rocky Barker –
Published: 08/24/09

· Read the court documents for the wolf injunction hearing Aug. 31

· Stores report brisk wolf tag sales in Idaho

· Rocky Barker: Will Idaho’s hunt hurt wolf numbers?

U.S. District Judge Donald Malloy has granted wolf advocates a hearing on their request for an injunction to stop wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana.

Meanwhile a national animal rights groups has called for a boycott of Idaho potatoes to protest the hunt.

Malloy scheduled the hearing for Aug. 31, the day before hunting was scheduled to begin in Idaho. Attorneys for Earthjustice, the group representing the 13 groups challenging the hunt and the federal government will get three hours to make their cases in court.

The groups say the hunting seasons would cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. The wolf hunts would also allow the killing of the breeding alpha male and female wolves, thereby disrupting the social group, leaving pups more vulnerable.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission set a limit of 220 wolves for this year. The Nez Perce can take another 35 so that sets the estimated harvest at 25 percent of the estimated population of more than 1,000. But environmental groups say the hunt actually represents 30 percent of the population at the end of 2008 when Idaho had 39 breeding pairs and Montana 34.

Montana set its limit at 75 wolves, about 15 percent of its estimated population. Wolf population have been growing at a rate of 20 percent annually since they were reintroduced in 1995.

The groups also challenge the legality of delisting wolves in Idaho, Montana, northern Utah, eastern Oregon and western Washington while keeping them on the endangered Species list in Wyoming.

Friends of Animals said it was calling for a potato boycott because of the vocal backing of the hunt by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.

The (Darien, Connecticut) based group referred to Otter’s 2007 statement to hunters, “I’m prepared to bid for the first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.” They also didn’t like Otter’s explanation of respect for wolves in an story Aug 19.

“You can still hate them and respect their cunning and their place in nature,” Otter said

Friends of Animals’ president, Priscilla Feral said in a press release: “Gov. Otter’s enthusiasm for wolf killing not only demonstrates a complete lack of conscience and understanding of the word ‘respect’ it shows a lack of respect for nature and the ecosystem.”

One-third of all potatoes in the U.S. are grown in Idaho, she said.

“As long as Idaho is in the business of killing wolves, the nature-respecting public should stop buying potatoes there,” she said.