Letters From the West

Salmon wolf derby sponsor says it’s to spread word on parasite


Shane McAfee, the Idaho for Wildlife Salmon Chapter president, wants you to know the Coyote and Wolf Derby his group is sponsoring in Salmon is for a good cause.

“It’s not going to be a slaughter,” McAfee told me. “Two or three wolves might be harvested and a few coyotes.”

The event has brought outrage from wolf advocates and others who see it as a disrespect for the prey, which is at the heart of ethical hunting. McAfee said the derby is designed to get the word out that wolves have parasites.

The tapeworm, Echinococcus Granulosus, showed up in Idaho game in 2006 but was in sheep for decades previously. It is carried by dogs, wolves, foxes and coyotes. It needs other species like elk, deer, cattle or lambs to survive.

They get cysts on their lungs and livers from the parasites during a stage in its life cycle.

For the full story go to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s website. 

Mark Drew, Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian, has done a good report too.

McAfee, like members of anti-wolf groups, suggest that wolves brought the disease to the state when they were reintroduced. But Fish and Game scientists say that’s not true.

It wasn’t seen in wolves until 2006. But McAfee blames it on the wolves and wants you to be afraid too.

“It will backfire on the enviros for putting down our derby,” he said. “The harder they try to put down our derby the more we will spread the word about the deadly disease these wolves are carrying.”

The disease can be passed to humans, but no recent reports of human infections have been made in Idaho. Three documented cases came before wolves were reintroduced.

During intensive Fish and Game surveillance between 2006-2010, hydatid cysts were found in the lungs of numerous deer and elk from central Idaho and 62 percent of wolves tested were infected with the tapeworm.

“The people of our town are tired of the threat of the disease in our community,” said McAfee. “The only people not worried don’t know about the disease yet.”

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West