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.
On Friday wolves were delisted and the state took over wolf management from federal wildlife managers.
It may explain why his frustration over the issue boiled over last week resulting in assault and battery charges after confronting a wolf advocate in Stanley.
His 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 bar the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from managing wolves. It also declares that Idaho demands the federal government remove all wolves from the state.
State and federal officials, the Idaho Cattle Association, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and most of the other groups engaged in the process agree. If the initiative were to get the required 45,893 signatures of registered voters, equal to 6% of the qualified electors at the 2006 general election, and then was passed by voters this November, the effect would be to reverse the delisting and hand management back to the federal government.
The seven environmental groups that have vowed to sue and possibly seek an injunction are limited by law to wait to file until April 28, unless they could convince a judge there is a serious immediate threat to the wolf population and they have a pretty good chance of winning their lawsuit in the end.
The filing deadline for the petitions is May 1. The new group that is spearheading the effort, instead of Gillett is a Twin Falls group called Save Our Elk . On its website, it says it still needs 30,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.
Its deadline is May 1.
The last time around wolf initiative supporters didn’t have enough names, in part because many of the people who signed were not registered to vote. This time they are also trying to register voters.
But the delisting of wolves Friday can’t help but make their job even harder. Will sportsmen be interested in joining a crusade that ultimately returns control over wolves to the federal government and the Nez Perce Tribe?
Or will they instead be spending their time filling out forms to get a chance at a wolf hunting tag?
We’ll know in a little over a month.