Illegal hunters, or poachers, likely kill more wildlife than wolves, report Idaho conservation officials.
Last year, Idaho law enforcement confirmed the criminal hunting of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer, reports the Lewiston Tribune. However, most poachers escape prosecution. Those numbers may only represent 5 percent of the total amount of wildlife stolen by poachers, according to conservation officials.
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"It's real easy for people to blow a gasket about wolf predation," Idaho Fish and Game District Conservation Officer George Fischer told the Associated Press. "They are very passionate about it."
"Wolves are causing an impact, there is no doubt about it," Fischer said. "I don't want to downplay that at all, but (poachers) are probably killing more or stealing more game than wolves."
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Idaho law threatens poachers with a $750 fine for illegally killing an elk and $10,000 for a moose. Yet, many of these crimes go unreported. If wolves killed as many deer, elk and other wildlife as poachers, citizens would take action, said Barry Cummings, another Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer.
"Holy buckets, we would be setting budgets aside," Cummings said in the Lewiston Tribune. "We would develop a group to figure out what it was and we would develop a plan to deal with it, but we won't even talk about what impact (poaching) has on wildlife."
Photo: Grey wolves (Canis lupus). Credit: Gunnar Ries, Wikimedia Commons