COCOLALLA, Idaho (AP) — State officials have suspended the commercial license of a Idaho company that exhibits 23 wolves as part of its goal to educate the public for among other things, violating a hands-off requirement.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reported Thursday that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game suspended Wolf People's license last month.
Documents obtained by the Sandpoint newspaper say the yearlong suspension is because the company failed to comply with a 2012 agreement prohibiting visitors from having physical contact with the wolves and failing to get a $50,000 bond to guarantee compliance with the agreement.
The agreement sought to resolve 43 violations brought against the company but primarily cited violations of the hands-off clause.
The company appealed after Fish and Game put it on notice in June that it planned to suspend Wolf People's commercial wildlife licenses for violating the consent agreement. The company appealed, leading to an evidentiary hearing in November in Coeur d'Alene.
“IDFG has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondents violated the consent agreement by permitting physical contact with the wolves by the public in the kennel areas and failure to secure a performance bond as required by law,” wrote Edward Lockwood, a hearing officer.
Besides the violations of the hands-off policy, state officials said, other violations ranged from failing to report births and deaths of wolves, transporting wolves without permission, and failing to report a wolf escape in 2011.
Virgil Moore, director of Fish and Game, on Feb. 5 adopted the hearing officer's findings, and on Feb. 26, declined to alter his position.
Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Trever represented Fish and Game. She said Wolf People can petition a 1st District Court judge to review Moore's order suspending Wolf People's license. Otherwise the license will expire on March 26.
Moore's order, Trever said, doesn't prevent Wolf People from applying for non-commercial, private facility permits to keep the wolves. She said if the company fails to get permits or license individual wolves, the state could relocate them.
Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com