There has been little, if any compromise, to date in Idaho's raging debate over wolves—opponents are quick to point to more than 4,000 sheep and nearly 2,000 cattle reportedly killed by wolves in the past quarter century while proponents want to remind us that more than 2,000 wolves have been killed by humans in the same period of time.
But in a rare opportunity for all sides to sit elbow-to-elbow, The Wood River Wolf Project will be hosting a collaborative effort this coming week, bringing together wildlife advocates, ranchers, and representatives from federal, state and local agencies. In particular, Suzanne Stone, co-founder of the Wood River Wolf Project, said she's hoping that the two sides will be able to find new, nonlethal techniques for keeping wolves away from livestock in the Wood River Valley.
"One of the best parts of the project is that people are able to set aside their differences," Stone told Boise Weekly. "It's a win-win for both sides."
The two-day workshop will begin with indoor meetings, but Tuesday will feature outdoor field tours.
Stone said she believed the similarities outweigh differences among the opposing sides.
“People across the board love the land, the wildlife and their Idaho heritage,” she said. “We set the differences outside the door. I wish the state would do that!”
Since its inception, Stone says the Wood River Wolf Project has helped to protect up to 27,000 sheep in a 1,000-square-mile project area in and around the Sawtooth National Forest. In the last six years alone, she said that fewer than 30 sheep had been lost.
“We’ve got one of the worst case scenarios in terms of risk, yet one of the lowest lost rates of livestock to wolves statewide," said Stone.
The Idaho Legislature recently appropriated $400,000 annually, just to kill wolves, but Stone insists that it's an inefficient use of money, and only a short-term fix.
"You have this ongoing spiral of conflict and we’ve seen that go on for 20 years now in Idaho,” she said.
Citizens are welcome to participate in some of the workshops over the next couple of days, but must ask for access from Charlotte Conley at firstname.lastname@example.org. This year's event is the fourth annual workshop and training.