Idaho panel sets wolf hunting season, quotas

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a 10-month-long wolf hunting season in the upper Clearwater River basin Thursday and also increased the trapping season beyond what was recommended by Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers.

The commission, meeting in Salmon, lengthened the wolf season in the Lolo and Selway zones three months beyond what was proposed by wildlife biologists. Commissioner Fred Trevey, of Lewiston, recommended stretching the seasons in the two backcountry zones where biologists have documented wolves are the primary cause of elk mortality.

“We always have the option to truncate that if we need to,” he said.

A wolf hunting proposal from the department recommended the statewide season open Aug. 30 and run through March 31. Commissioners approved those dates in most of the state. But in the two zones in the upper Clearwater basin, the season will run through June 30 so it stays open during the spring black bear hunt.

The department recommended a season without a harvest quota in most of the state, but it did propose them in the Beaverhead and Island Park zones along the Idaho-Montana state line near Yellowstone National Park. The quotas were recommended to promote genetic diversity by ensuring some wolves can migrate between Idaho and the park to mate.

At the request of new commissioner Kenny Anderson, of Rigby, who represents the Upper Snake Region, the quota was increased to 10 in the Beaverhead Zone and to 30 in the Island Park Zone.

“I want more for my area; a better hunt and to take out more wolves,” Anderson said.

The trapping season was lengthened by setting the opening date at Nov. 15, instead of Dec. 1, as recommended by the department. Commissioners also reduced the price of nonresident wolf hunting and trapping tags from $186 to $31.75, the same rate nonresidents are charged for mountain lion and black bear tags.

Hunters will be allowed to kill two wolves per year and trappers can take as many as five. Department Director Virgil Moore has said the state will manage the hunt to ensure the wolf population stays well above 150 — the number that could trigger relisting the animals under the Endangered Species Act. There are believed to be about 1,000 wolves in Idaho.

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