SALMON, Idaho - Linda Borton of Tucson, Ariz., was furious when she heard that one of the Canadian wolves released in central Idaho had been shot, and that Lemhi County Sheriff Brett Barsalou said he didn't "give a damn who shot it."
That same night she fired off a letter to
"I'm very much against all violence,
but if you can't get your trigger-happy bozos under control, I
might be convinced of the efficacy of setting leg-traps in the
parking lot of your local Dunkin" Donuts," she
"It would be nice if you took your job
seriously and protected the right species (i.e., the wolf) this
time. Or is the only way to protect nature from man to make open
season on cattle, ranchers, and maybe even the law if it seems
unable to fulfill its responsibilities?"
a sweater-knitting grandmother who loves pets and doesn't eat meat,
isn't the only one to write or call to let Barsalou and others in
Lemhi County know what they think of the wolf
Barsalou said since the shooting, he's
heard from about 50 angry callers - all of them
"I've had phone calls from Florida
to Chicago, Nebraska to Texas," he said.
15 wolves released into central Idaho was found shot Jan. 28 on the
Gene Hussey ranch 25 miles south of Salmon (HCN, 2/20/95). The U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the wolf had eaten but
not killed a calf. Nobody knows who shot the wolf. Even though Fish
and Wildlife is calling the shooting an "illegal take under the
Endangered Species Act," Barsalou said whoever shot the wolf was
justified in doing so. He said callers took his statement to mean
that he didn't like wolves.
During a recent
meeting in Boise, Barsalou was accosted by a woman who accused him
of being "the sheriff who shot the wolf."
told her I didn't shoot the wolf," Barsalou said. "I tried to
explain to her what happened, but she didn't want to listen to me."
Barsalou said he has spent hours trying to
explain the geography, economics, and culture of Lemhi County to
angry callers. But, it's hard for people in Florida to understand
why residents of Lemhi County, who depend on the land - both public
and private - for a living, would shoot wolves to protect their
It might be even more difficult for
them to comprehend why some in Lemhi County are sporting bumper
stickers and hats that display a drawing of a wolf and the slogan,
"Hussey for President."
Hussey, who has no
telephone, has gotten a few letters himself, all of them from
supporters. One letter from Spokane, Wash., addressed to "Gene
Hussey, Iron Creek, 25 miles south of Salmon," advised him to ask
$500 compensation for the calf, and $100,000 from U.S. Fish and
Wildlife as compensation for "malicious mischief." Others offered
money in case he needed a lawyer, and one woman sent him $10 to
help pay his phone bill.
"I received quite a
swell of community support for this situation," said Hussey, who
bought an ad in Salmon's Recorder-Herald thanking the people of the
community for their support.
Rick Hussey, the
only Hussey listed in the phone book, is Gene Hussey's third
cousin. He is an outfitter and rodeo announcer and doesn't run
cattle. He said he has had lots of phone calls, all but one
supporting the wolf shooting. He says the anonymous caller
threatened to shoot five of Gene Hussey's cows.
lives in Salmon,