Sheriff denies 'SSS' raffle aims for wolves
GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) -- A northern Idaho sheriff says he is not advocating the illegal shooting of federally protected wolves by offering a hunting rifle and a shovel as the prize in a raffle called ".308 SSS Wolf Pack Raffle" in a region where SSS commonly stands for "shoot, shovel and shut up."
Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings says the SSS in the raffle stands for "safety, security and survival."
"We knew that this would stir up some interest," Giddings told the Lewiston Tribune.
The newspaper reports that the SSS in the wolf-shooting context often appears in the area on bumper stickers.
Raffle tickets went on sale Friday for $1 each, or 11 for $10. The prize is a Winchester .308-caliber Model 70 Featherweight rifle and a shovel. The drawing is planned for March 8.
Giddings said money from the raffle will go to a food bank, alcohol and drug awareness programs, and local school equipment fundraisers.
"No, we're not advocating shooting wolves," Giddings said. "Safety, security and survival, that's kind of an Idaho County thing. That's who we are. It's to get people's attention. It means something to us up here."
Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the raffle is an indication of how frustrated people are over wolves and the loss of state management of the animals.
A federal judge in Montana in August ruled it was improper of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to retain federal wolf management in Wyoming while turning wolf management over to state governments in Idaho and Montana. In response, the agency took back authority over wolf management in Idaho and Montana, angering state officials and blocking wolf hunts that had been scheduled for this fall.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter pushed for an agreement with Fish and Wildlife to allow a wolf hunting season. When that failed, Otter in October ordered Idaho wildlife managers to relinquish their duty to arrest poachers or to even investigate when wolves are killed illegally.
Otter rejected the wolf management Idaho has conducted for years as the federal government's "designated agent" after wolves were returned to Endangered Species Act protections.
The move means Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers no longer perform statewide monitoring for wolves, conduct investigations into illegal killings, provide law enforcement when wolves are poached or participate in a program that responds to livestock depredations.
Giddings told the newspaper he strongly supports Otter's move.
Cadwallader said that evidence of wolf poaching in the region is turned over to federal authorities.
"We are a state of law-abiding citizens," Cadwallader said. "We are frustrated, beyond frustrated, but we have to follow the rule of law."
More than 1,700 wolves now inhabit Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon.