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Wolf hunting-tag story gets Idaho woman howling mad

February 15, 2010 | 10:35 am

Alpha Fe Lynne Stone knows the Basin Butte wolf pack. She has been chronicling them for four years, and has given each pack member a name to identify it.

These days, however, it would be more accurate to say she knew them. Most of the pack located near Stanley, Idaho, was killed in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services-mandated cull last year.

So when Stone read a recent item on Outposts mentioning that she tried to pass off a state-culled wolf carcass as one she killed herself, she was a bit miffed.

"I never told them I killed the wolf, and they never asked," Stone told Outposts. "Never once did I say that I shot her. I used the words retrieved, and salvaged."

The "they" she mentions are those manning the Wolf Reporting Number, a toll-free phone number that hunters must call within 24 hours of harvesting an animal. "I was only asked if I validated my tag, which I had," Stone added.

The wolf in question -- the alpha female of the Basin Butte pack -- was known to Idaho Fish and Game as B171; Stone referred to her as "Alpha Fe."

"I learned about the shooting the week of Thanksgiving," said Stone, director of the wilderness conservation organization Boulder-White Clouds Council. "I was heartbroken but knew what I had to do. I and several friends contacted various DFG offices throughout the state asking about the legality of retrieving the wolf's body, and nobody could give a definitive answer.

"So I consulted a lawyer, and she found a statute in Idaho code that if a wolf had been legally killed -- not run over by a car, not illegally killed -- that you could possess it, and then you had to write out a statement of where you had found it and your hunting license number. In this case, since it was during wolf season, I put my wolf tag on her."

Fish and Game officials, however, rejected Stone's claim and confiscated the carcass as state property.

"This statute is what I showed law enforcement, and then they pulled out a different statute that said that any wolf that's killed by wildlife services remains the property of the state of Idaho," Stone said.

She received a warning from the department for her actions, but no other penalty.

"I did this with good intentions. I still can't believe they took her -- I thought it was all legitimate," she said.

I am pro-hunting and believe the regulations are there for a reason and need to be followed. Still, when speaking with Stone, it wasn't difficult to feel a singularly human trait -- compassion.

The law is the law though, and to allow one variance could lead to a slew of "good-intentioned" folks doing the same thing.

Stone is still keeping track of the carcass. She hopes that she can either buy it outright or attend the agency's annual auction and put in the winning bid to get her "Alpha Fe" back.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo credit: Lynne Stone

RELATED:

Wolf advocate receives warning for her Idaho hunting tag chicanery

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