So this is what trapping looks like? A photo of a U.S. Forest Service employee smiling in front of the crippled and bloody wolf he trapped in Idaho has fired up the wolf vs anti-wolf forces in the west and elswhere.You can see the photo here, but the three images are graphic.
In this instance the wolf was not only trapped, he was shot at repeatedly by people from a near-by road. By the time the trapper got to him, the hobbled wolf had left a circle of blood in the snow. The pictures, which were originally posted on the web site trapperman.com, prompted environmental groups to file letters of protest with Idaho Fish and Game Department, the Forest Service and the U.S. Attorney General, demanding an investigation. The wolf, which only a year ago was on the endangered species list, was tortured, they said, a violation of Idaho state law.
Wolves on Isle Royale and their kill. Star Tribune photo.
News reports say that both Idaho and the Forest Service said the employee, Josh Bransford, did nothing illegal. He had a valid trapping license, he was doing on his own time and on private land. That said, the officials said, they would have preferred he took the photo after he shot the wolf, not before.
Idaho is not friendly to wolves. There are about 1,000 in that state, and the state's management plan calls for reducing that number to 150 through hunting and trapping. This year so far 377 have been killed or trapped.
Wolf trapping will come to Minnesota starting next winter. This week the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing a wolf hunting and trapping, and the Senate is expected to follow shortly. The season would start in the fall along with the regular firearms deer hunting season, and trapping would begin in December. The state DNR had proposed a wolf season independent of the firearms deer season, but lawmakers in both the Senate and House want to give deer hunters a chance to take wolves incidental to deer hunting.
A wolf hunting or trapping license would cost $26 under the House bill. Nonresidents could buy a wolf hunting license for $250. The DNR could limit the number of hunters and trappers and set a harvest quota.
And here you can read a pretty thoughtful opinion piece on the controversy in Idaho and on trapping in general.