Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is taking his state out of the wolf management game.
The governor, who is running for a second term, announced this week that he will no longer be using state agencies and resources to enforce federal endangered species regulations that require the state to “manage” wolf populations. Otter made his policy public in a letter written to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar where he stated, “history will show that this program was a tragic example of oppressive, ham-handed ‘conservation’ at its worst.” Otter went on to say that “at least the state will no longer be complicit.”
Wolves have been a major feuding point over the last few years as states and the federal government have grappled over how to manage the growing populations of the once scarce animal.
Most recently, U.S. senators from the region have banded together and proposed a bill that would strip federal government of its power to protect the species at all. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal has made a habit of suing the federal government, and losing, over the wolf issue. Otter’s latest move seems to be taken directly out of Freudenthal’s playbook.
Otter’s decision means that the state’s game and fish biologists and wardens will cease monitoring wolves. Furthermore they won’t investigate suspected wolf kills. Otter’s spokesperson, Jon Hanian, told the Missoulian, a newspaper in Western Montana, that taking a hands-off approach to investigating wolf killings is one part of the new policy. “That’s part of wolf management, and that’s going to become somebody else’s problem,” he said.
As for whose problem this will be, the federal government is the likely recipient.
It’s sort of like the President Andrew Jackson's situation in 1832 when he said of Chief Justice John Marshall’s decision calling Native American removal from Southern states unconstitutional, “He’s made his judgment, now let him enforce it.” Essentially these states-versus-federal government issues are right out of Jacksonian America — although something tells me Jackson would have been all for wolf hunts.