A March 9 editorial raised doubts about Idaho’s commitment to a sustainable wolf population.
I recently expressed concern over Idaho’s Lolo elk herd. Twenty-five years ago, the herd peaked at 16,000 animals. In latest counts, Lolo elk numbered 2,178, with poor survival of cows and calves needed to recover the herd.
Fish and Game is committed to saving the Lolo herd and keeping other elk herds healthy. We need to bring wolf numbers into proper balance.
The Lolo situation didn’t happen overnight; habitat problems and a bad winter in the mid-1990s all contributed. Then wolves became the leading cause of Lolo elk deaths. Last May, when Idaho could finally manage wolves, the balance of elk and wolves in the Lolo Zone was completely out of whack.
Hunters have taken just 11 of the Lolo’s 27-wolf harvest limit. In August, we will recommend to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission more aggressive management actions in the Lolo and other problem zones. There will be opportunity for public discussion. These recommendations are consistent with Idaho’s wolf management plan.
Idaho is committed to sustainable wolf and elk populations. I respectfully remind The Spokesman-Review successful wildlife management requires balance between predator and prey.
Director, Idaho Fish and Game