Otter backs down on wolf ultimatum

Otter backs down on wolf ultimatum

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The clock reached zero and then kept ticking on the Oct. 7 ultimatum Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, insisting on state control of wolf management.

But rather than end his state’s cooperation regarding the federally protected predator as he had warned, Otter just pushed his deadline into the unforeseeable future.

Otter met Thursday afternoon with Steve Doherty, senior Northwest advisor for the U.S. Interior Department, and representatives from the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to push for a new wolf management agreement.

Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said everything was on the table and the governor considered the meeting a good exchange of concerns. Idaho was not given control of wolf management, Hanian said, but Otter’s deadline was set just to emphasize the urgency.

“We’ve conveyed that urgency,” Hanian said. “At this point, we’ll continue to work with our federal counterparts as long as we’re moving the ball.”

When asked if Otter pushed back the deadline because he was content with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joining Idaho and Montana in appealing the court ruling that put wolves back under federal protection, Hanian said it was welcome but Otter expected more.

“We’re dealing with a government that likes to drag these issues out,” Hanian said.

Hanian said Otter will announce in the next few days a response based upon Thursday’s meeting.

On Sept. 8, Otter met with Salazar and set the Oct. 7 deadline for Fish and Wildlife to either return wolf management to Idaho, or Idaho would no longer shoulder its responsibility to monitor wolves.

This came in response to an Aug. 4 federal district court ruling that returned wolves in Idaho and Montana to the endangered species list because Wyoming did not have an approved wolf management plan in place.

Laura Lundquist may be reached at llundquist@ magicvalley.com or 735-3376.

TAGS: wolves, C.L. “Butch” Otter, Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife, Ken Salazar

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