Idaho has joined Montana in planning to let hunters shoot wolves starting this September — the first open gray wolf hunts in the lower 48 states after the lifting of Endangered Species Act protections across much of the Northern Rockies. Environmental groups have threatened to seek an injunction.
If the hunt does take place in Idaho for up to 220 wolves, here are some of the details approved Monday by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission:
READY, AIM, OPEN YOUR WALLET: Wolf tags will cost $11.75 for residents and $186 for out-of-staters and are set to go on sale next Monday. Limited hunting would start Sept. 1.
WOLF ZONES: Wolf tags would be divvied up between 12 zones across Idaho. For instance, in Idaho’s forested far northern Panhandle, hunters could shoot up to 30 of the predators. Twenty-seven could be shot in the Lolo and 55 could be shot in the Sawtooths, two regions where hunters complain wolves are having a big impact on elk and mule deer.
HOLD YOUR FIRE: When the limit is reached in a zone, Idaho Fish and Game managers would close the season there.
TRIBAL HUNT: The Nez Perce Tribe in northcentral Idaho would be allowed to shoot up to 35 wolves. Tribal officials didn’t return phone calls seeking comments. Combined with the 220-wolf state hunt, that would reduce Idaho’s wolf population to about 765 by next spring — if all quotas are filled.
PHASE ONE? Commissioners want to eventually reduce Idaho’s wolf population to the 2005 level of about 518 through regulated hunting, a figure they point out is five-times higher than the 150 wolves called for in Idaho’s federally approved management plan. But environmental groups have sued, saying state plans don’t ensure sustainable wolf populations.