Defenders defends wolves

  Dear HCN,

In response to Joy York's letter to the editor, "Wolf killing hard to swallow" (HCN, 7/10/02:Wolf killing hard to swallow), we are stunned to see an accusation that Defenders of Wildlife is "in the business of killing wolves."

How that statement could possibly be made about an organization that has done so much to promote wolf restoration in the Northern Rockies is unfathomable. Defenders was one of the lead organizations working to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone and Idaho and has continued supporting wolves since then, putting our resources and energy toward creating more tolerance and protection for them through our Proactive Carnivore program.

The guardian program Ms. York references is working full-steam right now to hang miles of fladry in record breaking heat in high mountain terrain. Fladry is a nonlethal method of fencing being studied to deter wolves. It may well prevent another calf depredation on a ranch with a history of chronic wolf losses * and hopefully give humans one more nonlethal tool to use to reduce wolf conflicts around the world. Our guardian volunteers are people who love wolves and want to help them. They are teachers, biologists, researchers, college students, and others who believe that the best way to help is to work with the ranchers, biologists, and rural residents to avoid or reduce livestock losses. They are donating their own time and resources to travel from across the country to Idaho to spend their vacations working with us to help protect the wolves.

Defenders is also putting up electric fencing on a farm with depredation problems, purchasing guard dogs for other ranchers, hiring range riders for the Yellowstone area, paying for additional aerial flights to help a sheep producer steer his bands clear of wolf activity - and this year alone we've paid over $35,000 in this region to reimburse livestock owners for wolf losses. Our fund has paid ranchers nearly $250,000 total, not including the funds we've used for our proactive efforts and the rewards we've posted for poachers who illegally kill wolves. What other environmental organization has done more?

While I understand and share her grieving for the loss of the Whitehawk pack, I encourage Ms. York to learn more before making accusations that are so hurtful and untrue.

Suzanne Laverty Boise, Idaho

The author is the Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

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