Field reports: Wolf hunt concerns Yellowstone visitors
HUNTING – Wolf-watchers say they’re concerned that hunters participating in Wyoming’s second annual wolf hunt may have killed five members of the Lamar Canyon Pack, a well-known wolf pack whose territory includes part of Yellowstone National Park.
Officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department say it’s impossible to determine if the two male and three female wolves were members of the Lamar Canyon Pack. The five were killed in a hunt area northeast of Cody over three days in mid-October.
Recent counts put the number of wolves in the pack at 11, meaning almost half the pack might have been killed.
State law prohibits Game and Fish employees from disclosing details about wolves killed in Wyoming’s annual wolf hunt. That includes the specific locations where wolves are killed and the wolves’ age, coloration and breeding status.
Regardless, Game and Fish officials can’t determine the identity of the wolves killed for certain because the wolves are not tagged or wearing radio collars.
The hunt area had a limit of four wolves. The five killed exceeded that by one. Last year, hunters were allowed to kill up to eight wolves in the hunt area.
This year’s statewide wolf hunt limit is 26, down from 52 last year.
Catch rates high, fish quality low
FISHING – The latest fall chinook creel report from the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River says the fishing pressure continues to decline but anglers still working the record salmon run were averaging an excellent 2.7 fish per boat.
However, with the season heading toward the Oct. 31 closure, the quality of the salmon is degrading as they ripen.
Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist for the area, said that, based on anecdotal information from anglers and creel surveyors, he’d say “roughly 20 percent are still edible, 20 percent are smokers, and 60 percent are more than ready to spawn.”
Elk group funds Idaho projects
CONSERVATION – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says it is transferring $223,943 in grants and other funding to help boost elk habitat programs in Idaho, including $50,000 for the wolf management program.
The funding is directed mostly to nine counties, including Boundary, Clearwater, Latah and Shoshone.
Projects include controlled burns and weed control with state and federal agencies to boost big-game forage, RMEF officials said.
Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies.
“It’s no secret elk populations and habitat declined over the last few decades in north-central Idaho,” said David Allen, RMEF president. “RMEF is stepping up funding and research efforts and working with our partners to address improvements.
“We are also increasing our efforts to assist and strengthen the state’s wolf management program.”
The funding comes largely from the foundation’s local fundraising banquets, he said.