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Wolf hunts on hold

Thu., Sept. 16, 2010, midnight

Wolf-hunting seasons scheduled for fall in Idaho and Montana were stopped this summer by a federal lawsuit that put wolves back under federal protection, at least for now.

Gray wolves were reintroduced to Idaho starting in 1995 and they spread through the region beyond all expectations of wolf experts.

In 2009, to help control the burgeoning wolf packs that were taking a toll on livestock and big-game populations, Idaho and Montana authorized the first regulated wolf hunts since the species had been extirpated from the region by the 1930s.

Even though hunters harvested 188 wolves in Idaho’s first season, the statewide total of wolves continued to increase. In July, Idaho researchers estimated the state’s wolf population at a minimum of 835 in 94 packs.

Idaho is seeking authorization to reduce wolf numbers despite the current ban on hunting.

The state has set a wolf population goal at about 500, roughly the number of wolves that populated Idaho in 2005 when wolf depredations on elk herds and domestic livestock began to rise sharply.

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