Wolf Report: Hunting Seasons Considered

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Deep and lingering snows are keeping wolves in lower elevations mostly along winter range later than usual this year, providing more opportunity for wolves to be in close proximity to cattle calving operations.

But this year may be the first time in Idaho history that a wolf hunting season will help control numbers in some areas.

Fish and Game biologists have set this schedule for wolf rule setting:

  • April 28 – Statewide recommendations were sent to regional offices.
  • April 30 through May 16 – Public review and comment period.
  • May 16 – Summaries of regional public comments, and final regional recommendations are due to headquarters.
  • May 21-22 – Idaho Fish and Game Commission scheduled to consider wolf hunting rules and seasons during meeting at Jerome Fish and Game office.

The number of wolf depredations has increased every year since reintroductions and the resultant wolf control actions under federal authority correlate to the increasing wolf population and wolf activity in areas with high wolf-livestock conflict potential.

Wolf control in April has gone from one depredation incident and no wolf control action in 2005 to 14 depredation incidents and nine wolves killed in 2008.

Many depredation incidents are occurring in areas without historically high levels of depredations, including Council-Cambridge area, Horseshoe Bend, Lemhi, Pahsimeroi, Ashton, Mountain Home and other locations on private ground far from core wolf areas.

From March 28 through April 24 officials recorded 17 wolf mortalities: nine kills authorized in livestock depredations, two illegal takes, three killed under state law, two vehicle collisions, and one natural death.

Meanwhile, 12 conservation groups Monday, April 28, sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over delisting the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

The groups are asking the U.S. District Court in Missoula to suspend state management of wolves until the case is resolved.