Idaho Wolf Regulation Initiative (2008)

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An Idaho Wolf Regulation initiative was proposed as an initiative for the November 4, 2008 ballot in Idaho, but the measure did not qualify for the ballot.

The initiative, an initiated state statute, would have required the discontinuance by state agencies of all wolf recovery efforts and the removal by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of all wolves reintroduced into Idaho from Canada. It would have put the responsibility of removing wolves in the hands of the federal government.

If the initiative had passed, it also would have:

  • Required classification and management of wolves as unprotected predatory wildlife
  • Compensated for damage on personal property damage by wolves held in captivity or that have escaped from captivity.
  • Repealed authority of wolf management from the Governor's office of species conservation
  • Rescinded approval of the Idaho wolf conservation and management plan


The Anti-Wolf coalition, a nonprofit grassroots coalition, were the proponents of the initiative. The group's view was that wolves should be removed from Idaho by any means necessary.[1]

The group "Save Our Elk" also supported the measure, with their leader, Tony Mayer saying that they are not approaching the issue from an anti-wolf standpoint like the coalition run by Ron Gillett, but that they are "defending the elk."


The Idaho Cattle Association, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and other sportsmen and agriculture groups support the state's management of wolves. Even if the initiative got on the ballot, John Freemuth, a senior fellow at Boise State University's Andrus Center for Public Policy, doubts it would pass.

A series of BSU polls since the early 1990s showed that while support for wolves has dropped, supporters of wolves continued to outnumber opponents.

"If there was a vote, wolves would consistently win the election," Freemuth said.


Unexpected maneuver

For years, Ron Gillett and members of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition told hunters and ranchers wolves would never be removed from the protection of the Endangered Species list. In February 2007, Gillett said, "Don't think our Legislature is going to be successful in getting wolves delisted as a protected species and have a hunting season on them, because it's not going to happen."[2]

In March 2008, the state of Idaho did just that. Wolves were de-listed and the state took over wolf management from federal wildlife managers.

Gillett's prediction that the state would never get control over wolves was the primary argument he and his supporters used to get angry sportsmen to sign their initiative, which would have barred the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from managing wolves. It also would have declared that Idaho demands the federal government remove all wolves from the state. If the initiative would have gotten the required 45,893 signatures of registered voters, the effect would have been to reverse the delisting and hand management back to the federal government.[3]


Another incident that put a damper on the Anti-Wolf Coalition's campaign happened on March 25, 2008 when Ron Gillett was charged with assault and battery after a confrontation with wolf advocate Lynne Stone in Stanley.

The Stanley resort owner had had several public confrontations with Stone since 2006. Stone is the executive director of the Boulder-White Clouds Coalition, an environmental group, who has been monitoring wolves in the Stanley area in an effort to keep them from harm.

Stone said she was watching wolves Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the west side of Stanley along Idaho 21 when Gillett drove up and began yelling at her. She pulled out a camera and began shooting pictures of him.

Gillett stormed out of his car, grabbed Stone and tried to wrestle the camera from her, she said.[4]

Gillett was arrested and later released on his own recognizance.

Wolf De-listing

As of April 28, 2008, conservation groups asked a federal court to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections, while considering arguments that delisting the wolf was unlawful. The request for a court order to stop the killing was filed with a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s wolf delisting decision.

The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC), Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and Wildlands Project.[5]

Path to the ballot

Ron Gillett, founder of the Idaho Anti Wolf Coalition, said the petition drive was about 15,000 signatures short of the more than 45,000 needed to land the initiative on the ballot. Gillett, of Stanley, believes his group’s effort was hampered when the federal government removed wolves from Endangered Species Act protection and state’s like Idaho pledged to have hunting seasons (See: "Setbacks for the Proponents" below).

Gillett vowed the petition will make it on the ballot in 2010. "We fought this thing hard. I can assure we are not quitting now."[6]

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