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United States Department of Agriculture

News Release

USFS Taking Action to Remediate IDFG Wolf Collaring Incident 1-20-16

Starts With Issuing Notice of Non-Compliance

Salmon Challis National Forest Supervisor Chuck Mark today issued a Notice of Non Compliance to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the special use permit that authorized landing helicopters in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (the Frank), to capture and collar elk.

The Forest Service authorized the helicopter landings for elk collaring activities in the Frank on January 6, 2016,said Mark. \"We were notified on January 13, 2016, that one of the Fish and Game crews also landed in the Frank to capture and collar four wolves. Helicopter landings in the Frank to collar wolves were not authorized, and constitute noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the permit.

The Special Use Permit to the IDFG authorizing the department to make a limited number of helicopter landings, not to exceed 126, within the Frank to collar 60 elk. The purpose of the monitoring is to learn what factors are contributing to the decline in the elk population in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and action was determined necessary because juvenile recruitment is inadequate to maintain the elk population in the Middle Fork Zone.

The IDFG began operations on January 7, 2016 and completed their operations on January 9th. IDFG later notified the Salmon Challis National Forest that a crew working in the northern part of the study area had landed to collar four wolves,and cited a breakdown of internal communications for why those landings occurred.

Collaring of wolves occurs outside of Wilderness areas when the opportunity is presented in the course of the IDFG aerial elk capture program in which more than 400 collars are being placed on elk in eight different areas of the state.

United States Department of Agriculture

Given that the effects of the unapproved landings cannot be reversed, the remedy is to understand why and how this incident happened, and to take appropriate measures to prevent unapproved landings in the future.

To remedy the noncompliance, the following is required of the IDFG:

1. Provide information as to how and why the decision to collar the wolves was made.

2. Participate in an after action review with the Forest Service, in which we discuss the reasons for the unapproved landings in the wilderness, and how we prevent unapproved landings the future.

3. Develop a plan to assure that IDFG will not utilize helicopter landings in the wilderness for any purposes other than those for which the Forest Service specifically approves landings in any future permits that may be issued.

Any IDFG proposal seeking Forest Service approval for landings in the wilderness in the future must contain an adequate plan to assure that landings for other purposes will not occur. And, consideration of future proposals to approve helicopter landings in wilderness will be contingent upon completion of the above items.

As more information becomes available, we may identify additional measures that need to be taken, said

Mark. \"We need to demonstrate that IDFG and the Forest Service are both able to redeem their respective responsibilities to manage and protect the State\'s wildlife populations, and to administer and protect wilderness in accordance with the requirements of Federal law. IDFG self reported the violation right away which is a good first step toward making things right.\"

The IDFG news release is posted here:

http://fishgame.idaho.gov/public/media/viewNewsRelease.cfm?newsID=8022.


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