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Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife a wolf in sheep's clothing?

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On April 30, Executive Director Nate Helm of the Idaho chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) wrote an editorial in another Idaho newspaper calling for new members for his organization. The sad fact is, at least in this state, that this is not a new group. A number of board members are past or present members of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition.

You've read the rhetoric of the anti-wolf coalition in this paper and others, so I won't revisit it, save to say that the group supports the elimination by any means needed of every wolf in the state, regardless of science or public opinion.

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife continues to support this attitude and more. I managed to gain a copy of both a 2003 promotional video from the organization and a recent copy of their membership magazine.

The video is disturbing in promoting the belief that those who support hunting should have an overriding say in how our public lands are used or preserved.

Worse, a voiceover states that the reintroduction of wolves and continued activities of environmentalists are "unAmerican" and that SFW will continue to fight for control of public lands "politically correct or not," all over the footage of a wolf getting shot at apparently close range with a high-powered rifle.

The message is obvious.

I shared the footage with friends at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Digging found the name of the shooter in the video and a possible date and location, but no permits for shooting a wolf by that person in that time and place could be found. There was concern that the animal shot was actually a drugged or captive animal.

The video ends with silhouettes of game animals (also soon to be shot?) before an American flag and America the Beautiful playing in the background. You can view this footage online, in Windows Media format, at (myweb.cableone.net/rhobson9/SFW-Wolf.wmv).

Within the magazine are articles declaring that game species populations can be artificially increased if the habitat is altered to support them. According to the article, strategies include destroying pinion, juniper and conifer stands and replacing them with feed-plants. They also support the idea of buying retired grazing permits for the sole purpose of supporting a hunting monoculture.

One could conclude from the various articles that SFW's ultimate goal is to turn western public lands into one large canned hunt.

Elsewhere in the magazine is a running list of animals killed in Utah to protect hunting interests there. These specific pages are available for viewing on the Web at (wildwolves.homeip.net/SFWPages).

Nate Helm states that the Idaho chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is autonomous and independent from the Utah organization. However, the Idaho chapter Web site is hosted on the Utah Web site's server and the membership magazine that Idaho SFW members currently receive is printed in Utah. That doesn't sound autonomous to me. Mr. Helm's letter also begs the question: What did the Utah chapter of SFW do to elicit his response?

To borrow from another predator's mythology, a leopard cannot change it's spots. I would urge sportsmen and women who are truly concerned about wildlife (and not just the ones you can shoot or catch) to look elsewhere for an organization for a more balanced approach.