US government agency allegedly killed 8 cubs in their den A Humane World

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

A gray cub looking for its den. Photo by Alay

In the spring, wolf dens are usually full of young cubs raised by their parents and helper wolves, but when a den in Idaho was discovered vacant earlier this year, biologists worked to find out why. Today the Washington Post reported that eight Timberline wolf pack cubs were killed by officers of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, a division which, though unknown to most Americans, takes a heavy toll on wildlife— and the native carnivores in particular.

These particular murders are all the more heartbreaking considering that this pack had been studied by students at the nearby high school for nearly 20 years. Students at Timberline High were shocked to learn that federal agents had killed the puppies and said they plan to reach out to urge President Biden to restore federal protections of the Federal Endangered Species Act disappearance for the gray wolves. While it’s hard to find optimism amid the constant onslaught on wolves, it’s deeply inspiring that these young people are joining the cause to save them.

At the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, we are on high alert in our work to restore protection for gray wolves. The killing of the Timberline puppies is just the latest example of the ongoing wolf threats we have faced over the past decade.

Although tragic, the disappearance of the Timberline wolf pack is unfortunately not a unique story. Threats to wolves are increasingly coming from all directions – from federal agencies, state legislators and agencies, ranchers who want to graze their livestock near wolf territory, and trophy hunters eager to shoot and trap wolfs. wolves.

Wildlife Services’ written mission is “to resolve conflicts with wildlife to enable people and wildlife to coexist”, but as the agency has begun to take much needed steps to increase its use of non-lethal coexistence measures , Wildlife Services’ go-to methods still all too often involve traps, guns, and poison. In reality, many scientific studies have shown that wolves cause very few livestock losses; In reality, killing wolves indiscriminately can lead to greater losses by disrupting stable family structures and send inexperienced wolves to fend for themselves.

Wolves, especially 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 the livestock. Although wolves remain an iconic symbol of nature for most Americans, for some they have become a political pawn in power games that ignore both science and ethics. Idaho (and Montana) recently passed laws this year that flatter trophy hunters, trappers and even private contractors, allowing them to kill wolves at levels that could push the Northern Rockies wolf population on the edge of the abyss.

Fortunately, in response to a petition we filed with our allies, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is now beginning a formal review process to determine whether to extend endangered species protections to wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The agency’s determination that wolves can warrant federal protection is largely in response to these new laws in Idaho and Montana that allow unprecedented killing of wolves. This move by the FWS is an important step, but as the killing of these eight cubs shows, it just isn’t happening fast enough to spare the animals. Wolves in Idaho and Montana are under attack right now, and they can’t afford to endure months of free slaughter while the FWS completes its review. The agency must immediately restore endangered species protections for area wolves in the event of an emergency before it’s too late.

You can also be a voice for wolves. Tell the US Department of the Interior that the wolves of the Northern Rockies need protections now.

Sara Amundson is chair of the Humane Society’s Legislative Fund.


Public policy (legal/legislative), fauna/marine mammals