US government agency reportedly killed 8 wolf pups in their den

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on October 11, 2021 with 7 Comments

In the spring, wolf dens are usually full of young pups being raised by their parents and helper wolves, but when one den in Idaho was discovered vacant earlier this year, biologists worked on uncovering the reason. Today, the Washington Post reported that eight wolf pups from the Timberline wolf pack were killed by agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, a division that, while unknown to most Americans, takes a heavy toll on wildlife—and native carnivores in particular.

These particular killings are even more heartbreaking because this pack had been studied by students from the nearby high school for nearly 20 years. Timberline High students were shocked to learn that federal agents had killed the pups, and said they planned to reach out to urge President Biden to restore federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. While it is difficult to find optimism among the steady assaults on wolves, it is deeply inspiring that these young people are joining the cause to save them.

At the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, we are on high alert in our work to reinstate protections for gray wolves. The killing of the Timberline pups is simply the latest example of the ongoing threats to wolves that we have confronted over the last decade.

While tragic, the demise of the Timberline wolf pack is unfortunately not a unique story. Threats to wolves are increasingly coming from all sides—from federal agencies, state lawmakers and agencies, ranchers who want to graze their cattle near wolf territory and trophy hunters eager to shoot and trap wolves.

The written mission of Wildlife Services is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist,” but while the agency has started to take much-needed steps to increase its use of nonlethal coexistence measures, the go-to methods at Wildlife Services far too often still involve traps, guns and poison. In reality, numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that wolves cause very few livestock losses; in fact, indiscriminately killing wolves can lead to greater losses by disrupting stable family structures and sending inexperienced wolves off to fend for themselves.

Wolves—particularly in the Northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) and Wisconsin—are the victims of an unprecedented war that has nothing to do with protecting the environment, people or even livestock. Although wolves remain an iconic symbol of the wild to most Americans, to some they’ve become a political pawn in power plays that ignore both science and ethics. Idaho (and Montana) recently passed laws this year that pander to trophy hunters, trappers and even private contractors, allowing them to kill wolves at levels that could push the Northern Rockies wolf population to the brink.

Thankfully, in response to a petition we filed with our allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently beginning a formal review process to determine whether to extend endangered species protections to wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains region. The agency’s determination that wolves may warrant federal protection is largely in response to those new Idaho and Montana laws that authorize unprecedented killing of wolves. That determination by the FWS is an important step, but as the killing of these eight wolf pups show, it’s simply not happening fast enough to spare the animals. Wolves in Idaho and Montana are under attack right now, and they cannot afford to suffer months of wanton slaughter while the FWS completes its review. The agency must immediately restore endangered species protections to wolves in the region on an emergency basis before it’s too late.

You can be a voice for wolves, too. Tell the U.S. Department of the Interior that wolves in the Northern Rockies need protections now.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esto no es justo ya no mas violencia ni mas crueldad ni mas inhumanidad

  2. Sharon Dodge says:

    In each state especially Ohio, which once in my lifetime was a balanced, lush wildlife state, the Division of fish, wildlife and etc., etc., are licensing killers without giving them any kind of questionnaires or psychological profiles, or waiting or background checks? All across the nation, I think they should have a check and balanced watchdog group. They now seem to be made up,of unscientific, uneducated in living creatures, people. They have no respect for pods of wildlife families. They have no research in scientific ecology. Without a balance in nature, we will not have any more mountains or rivers. Every species you wipe out has an effect on everything, even birds and insects. These people can only see their immediate 20 mile stretch of land. They do not have the capacity to see the big picture, nor do they want to. It is time to split the existing department of wildlife, into separate parts. Let them kill off the fish until there are only hatcheries left, then they will see wildlife is not here for entertainment. It used to be we only killed and shot the wolves that attacked the herd, then the rest would stay away for awhile. Now we have prebiotic cattle thugs, killing herds of wolves before they have stacked anything. Only the human race does this.

  3. Maria Roberts says:

    This is heartbreaking. I have begged Biden to stop Trump’s removing protections for wolves. He has done nothing!
    Killing pups in dens and other cruel things make me sick!
    If Trump returns, wildlife will no more

  4. Tom says:

    Let’s evolve already ! Murder is the solution ?? What if it was your child ? Would you want the solution to be murder ?

  5. Clarice morley says:

    Just stop killing please !!! There’s a balance for a reason don’t mess with it !

  6. Susan De Antonio says:

    It is absolutely inexcusable to facilitate the killing of wolf pups. All wolves need expanded federal protection. Why is this so hard to understand?

  7. Neil Mclaughlin Nembhard says:

    These innocent animals should not be exploited of! Shame on the department for doing so and pups at that!

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