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Otter, officials to discuss wolf hunt

Sun., April 17, 2011

LEWISTON – Officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game plan to meet with Gov. Butch Otter on Monday to discuss a public wolf hunting season.

“We will be ready to have another hunting season,” said Jim Unsworth, deputy director of Fish and Game.

He said the meeting will determine whether the state can use the plan devised and used for the 2009 wolf hunt. That season the state set a harvest quota of 220 wolves with the aim of reducing the population in Idaho from about 800 wolves to 518 over five years. Currently, an estimated 800 wolves live in Idaho.

Hunts in Idaho and Montana for 2010 were canceled after a judge ruled the predators remained at risk.

But an attachment to the budget bill signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama strips endangered species protections from wolves in five Western states. Federal wildlife officials said that within 60 days they will take more than 1,300 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies off the endangered species list.

Protections remain in place for wolves in Wyoming because of its shoot-on-sight law for the predators. There are no immediate plans to hunt the small wolf populations in Oregon and Washington. No packs have been established in Utah. Like Idaho, Montana also plans a public wolf hunt.

Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Helena, said officials in the two states would monitor the hunts and file reports to the federal agency.

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