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Posts tagged: wolf hunting

F&G chief: Wilderness wolf hunt was called off because it was no longer being effective

Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore, who made his budget presentation to lawmakers this morning, said afterward that the department called off its professional hunt for wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness yesterday because “we had been ineffective in the last two weeks on taking any additional wolves.” The hunt had taken nine wolves in the area since the operation began in December. “The analysis the staff has done tells us we’re near where we want to be with take in there,” Moore said, between the department’s operation and sport hunting and trapping in the area, though “we went in there with the expectation of staying longer.”

Moore said, “I hope that allows us to continue to have a conversation about our management actions for elk.” Conservationists challenged the operation under the Wilderness Act, but their initial court challenge was unsuccessful. Moore called the wilderness operation “very similar” to past years’ efforts in the Lolo zone to reduce wolf numbers, though those relied mainly on aerial shooting and trapping. The operation in the Frank Church wilderness “differed because we put one of our folks back there,” he said.

“Evaluation of the cost-benefit is what led to the staff decision to pull folks out of there,” Moore said. Click below for last night's full AP report on the end of the operation.

Idaho Fish & Game pulls professional wolf hunter from Frank Church wilderness

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho wildlife managers called off a professional wolf hunter who has been killing predators inside a federal wilderness area. Department of Fish and Wildlife Monday said it was halting the hunt after nine wolves were killed since December, with none in the past two weeks. It had planned to keep hunter Gus Thoreson of Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness this winter as it sought reduce wolves and bolster low elk populations there. Wolf advocates initially lost their bid for a court order to force Thoreson to quit hunting wolves from his base on U.S. Forest Service territory. On Monday, however, they contended their continued pressure — they'd appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — helped convince Fish and Game to end the hunt.

Click below for Fish & Game's full announcement.

The divide over wolves…

Nearly 20 years after gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, deep fault lines remain in public opinion over wolves’ presence and the appropriate limits of their range, reports S-R reporter Becky Kramer. The divide was spotlighted last month, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was ready to get out of the wolf business. Agency officials have proposed ending federal protections for the 6,100 wolves in the Lower 48 states by the end of the year, with the exception of the Southwest’s Mexican gray wolves. Read Kramer's stories herehere, here, and here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

Two legal challenges filed over Wyoming wolf de-listing decision

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) ― Two environmental coalitions have filed notice that they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's decision to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. Both coalitions filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, that they intend to sue the agency. The groups are concerned that the state of Wyoming has classified wolves in most of the state as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight. The state has scheduled a trophy wolf hunt in the area around Yellowstone National Park starting Oct. 1. Congress specified that there could be no legal challenges to the recent federal action ending protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, but there has been no similar protection yet for Wyoming. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Ben Neary in Cheyenne.

Federal protections to be lifted for Wyoming wolves

The federal government will end protections for wolves in Wyoming, the Associated Press reports; today's  announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorses a plan that allows the wolves to be shot on sight in most parts of the state, while retaining protections in certain areas. The move quickly sparked promises of legal challenges from environmental groups. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Bob Moen in Cheyenne. The state would take over management of wolves Sept. 30, and it already has scheduled wolf hunts to start Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, Idaho's wolf hunting season opened yesterday statewide, and runs through January, March or June, depending on the zone.

Idaho wolf hunting season ends, Panhandle private-lands season begins

Idaho's wolf hunting season ended Saturday, but a summer season with wolf hunting allowed on private lands in the northern Panhandle region opened the same day. It's the first phase of the 2012-2013 season; wolf hunting in the rest of the state doesn't open until Aug. 30. Anyone wanting to hunt wolves during the summer season must have a permit and landowner permission in advance; click below for a full report from the AP and the Missoulian.

F&G chief: Hunting, trapping putting ‘important pressure’ on wolf population

Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore told JFAC this morning that as of yesterday, Idaho hunters had killed 206 wolves during the state's wolf hunting season, and trappers had taken 60. “That's a total of 266 wolves taken so far in this hunting season,” Moore said. In addition, about 60 more were killed in depredation actions, either through landowner action or or wildlife services efforts; that brings the total wolves to date in the past year to 326 “that have been harvested or taken for various purposes,” Moore said. “We think we're beginning to put some important pressure on those animals.”

This year's was only the state's second-ever wolf hunting season; the first was in 2009, but then wolves were returned to the endangered species list. “I feel real proud of the work that the department has done, and the help that we got from Congressman Simpson in getting the congressional authority to get out from underneath the judicial trap that we'd been in for so many years relative to wolf management..”

Lawyers spar over Idaho, Montana wolves in California courtroom

Attorneys for wolf advocates and government officials sparred in a Pasadena, Calif. courtroom today over ongoing wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana; a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard the arguments. The conservation groups want an injunction to halt the hunts while the case proceeds, though two previous such requests have been denied; there was no immediate decision. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Wolf arguments set for tomorrow in 9th Circuit

A panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear arguments tomorrow in California on an appeal seeking to stop the ongoing wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana; as of today, Idaho Fish & Game reports that 107 wolves have been taken in Idaho since Aug. 30 in this year's hunting season. Prior requests in federal court for an emergency injunction against the hunts were rejected; the Alliance for the Wild Rockies has appealed to the 9th Circuit. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Matthew Brown in Billings.

Three wolves taken so far in opening days of Idaho’s wolf hunt

The Associated Press reports that three wolves have been taken since Idaho's second-ever wolf hunting season opened on Tuesday. Hunters have 72 hours to report a wolf kill to the agency's regional offices. So far, Fish & Game reports that one hunter bagged a black male wolf near Island Park in eastern Idaho on Tuesday; and a hunter roaming the backcountry near Warm Lake in central Idaho shot and killed two — one female pup and an adult female. Fish & Game spokesman Niels Nokkentved said all three were taken legally.

Idaho wolf hunting season opens tomorrow

Idaho's second-ever wolf hunting season opens tomorrow, running from Aug. 31 through Dec. 31 in the Island Park and Beaverhead wolf management zones, Aug. 30-June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and Aug. 30-March 31 in the remaining nine zones. Click below for Idaho Fish & Game's full news release.

Bid to block Idaho, Montana wolf hunts rejected

The Associated Press reports that a federal appeals court in Helena, Mont. today rejected a request by environmental groups to halt wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana. Click below for the full AP report.

Federal judge in Montana upholds congressional wolf-delisting rider

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has reluctantly ruled to uphold a congressional budget provision that removed federal protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf outside of Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says that binding precedent by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requires him to rule against a constitutional challenge of the rider passed by Congress earlier this year. Molloy wrote in his order Wednesday that without that precedent, he would have ruled unconstitutional the provision that strips wolves of their endangered status in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Molloy says he believes the way Congress passed the provision undermines and disrespects the fundamental idea of the rule of law. Before Congress' action in April, Molloy had twice blocked attempts to lift protections for the predators.

Idaho sets wolf hunting, trapping seasons

Idaho's Fish & Game Commission, meeting today in Salmon, has set the state's wolf hunting season for 2011-12. As planned, the season will lack limits in several zones, to encourage more taking of wolves. Commissioners today made a few tweaks to the original proposal from their staff, upping the limits in two zones that have them, extending the trapping season and extending the hunting season in the Lolo zone, and lowering the nonresident wolf tag price to $31.75 statewide retroactively - nonresident hunters who already bought tags would be eligible for a refund. Fish & Game is posting all the details at its website here.

New Commissioner Kenny Anderson, from the Upper Snake Region, participating in his first commission meeting, asked to increase the limits by five each in the Beaverhead and Island Park zones. “I want more for my area, a better hunt and to take out more wolves,” he said.

Wolf issue back in court in Montana

Even as Idaho's Fish & Game Commission prepares to set this year's wolf-hunting season at its meeting this Thursday in Salmon, the wolf issue is back in court in Montana. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy held a two-hour hearing in Missoula today, the AP reports, on a bid by wildlife advocates to challenge Congress' move to strip endangered status from the gray wolf across five states in the Northern Rockies; Molloy now must decide whether Congress violated the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Matthew Brown in Montana.

Fall wolf hunt plan: No limits in Lolo, Panhandle, Selway or Middle Fork

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, 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.

Idaho wolf tags now on sale

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game has started selling wolf tags for a fall hunt, at a cost of $11.50 for Idaho resident hunters and $186 for non-residents, including vendor fees. A valid 2011 Idaho hunting license is required to buy a tag; they're available at Fish & Game offices and hunting license vendors.

Seasons, rules and limits haven't yet been set for Idaho's planned wolf hunt; the Fish & Game Commission will set those this summer. In Idaho's first state-sanctioned wolf hunt in 2009-2010, more than 31,000 tags were sold and 188 animals taken by hunters; the harvest limit was 220. A federal rule published today officially removed wolves in Idaho from endangered species protections, allowing the hunt plan to move forward.

Two lawsuits challenge wolf de-listing

The AP reports that two lawsuits have been filed today in U.S. District Court challenging the congressional legislation that de-listed wolves as unconstitutional. Here's the item from AP in Billings:  BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are challenging as unconstitutional Congressional legislation that took gray wolves off the endangered species list. Two lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, as control over more than 1,300 wolves was turned over to state authorities in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. A federal budget bill rider in April mandated the lifting of wolf protections. Western lawmakers said they wanted to go around a federal judge who blocked prior efforts to hunt the animals. But environmentalists say that violated the separation of powers required under the Constitution. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits are the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians. Hunts for hundreds of wolves are planned this fall in Montana and Idaho.

Idaho congressional delegation on wolves: ‘Consider it a victory’

In a joint statement, Idaho's congressional delegation praised the Interior Department's move today to delist wolves, as directed by legislation crafted in party by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson. “No one can rationally argue that the Rocky Mountain gray wolf is still endangered,” Simpson said. “Wolf populations in the west are robust and far exceed recovery goals. If the Endangered Species Act is going to be effective at all, we need to remove recovered species from the list and consider it a victory.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo said, “The wolf is recovered in the northern Rockies and the State of Idaho has proven that it can and will effectively and responsibly manage wolves.  Now that the federal government has taken this step, the State of Idaho can finally get to work.” Added Sen. Jim Risch, “Common sense has finally prevailed.” And Rep. Raul Labrador said, “The original purpose of the ESA has been perverted to do the bidding of activist environmentalists. This is the first step to ensuring these groups no longer misuse the ESA to permanently protect a species regardless of its recovery.” Click below for the delegation's full joint statement.

Defenders on wolves: ‘A terrible precedent’

Defenders of Wildlife has issued a statement in response to the de-listing of wolves in the Northern Rockies at congressional direction, calling it “a terrible precedent for side-stepping America's bedrock environmental laws whenever it's politically convenient to do so.” Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for the group, said, “We will be watching closely over the next several months as Idaho and Montana gear up to manage wolves once again. Even though the vast majority of Americans still continue to support wolf recovery, it will be up to dedicated conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts in Idaho and Montana to hold their elected officials accountable for how they manage wolves. We must stand up to the anti-wolf extremists who want to turn back the clock and eradicate wolves once again.” Click below for the group's full statement.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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