Idaho is planning a fall wolf hunt with no overall limit - and no limits in four zones, the Panhandle, Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones - because of "documented impacts to elk and other prey species in those zones," Idaho Fish and Game officials announced today. It's also planning a trapping season for wolves in the fall, in an effort to reduce the wolf population by more than the 188 animals taken in the state's first wolf hunt in 2009; you can read our full story here at spokesman.com, and read the full proposal here.
Virgil Moore, state Fish & Game director, said the plan is consistent with hunting regulations for other animals. "We don't have harvest limits on most of our other species," he said, instead using a "general-season approach" for management. Said Jon Rachael, big game manager for F&G, "This is very consistent with the approach we take for black bears and mountain lions. We've done that for a long, long time."
The proposal also would allow hunters to get two wolf tags per calendar year, rather than one.
Fish & Game is launching a survey of hunters and the public about the proposal, and it will be up for a vote by the Fish & Game Commission at its July 27-28 meeting in Salmon. Moore said under the plan, wolf harvests would have to be reported within 72 hours, and if the number killed becomes excessive, hunting can be cut off in a particular zone. However, he said he doesn't expect that to happen. "We learned in '09 that wolf hunting is extraordinarily challenging," he said. Fewer than 1 percent of hunters with tags actually shot a wolf in that year's hunt, he said.
Idaho currently has 1,000 or more wolves, the two said, and the department's goal is to reduce that number, well staying well above the minimum federal recovery level of at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide, though the department's not setting a specific number for the reduction.