Hunters in the Idaho Panhandle would be allowed to bait wolves under a proposal being discussed by state officials.
Idaho Fish and Game officials want more hunters to take a wolf, saying that reducing pack numbers would help reverse declines in elk numbers in the upper St. Joe River drainage.
The bait proposal will get an airing at a Feb. 27 open house in Coeur d’Alene on big game seasons, but adopting it would require action by the state Fish and Game Commission and the Idaho Legislature.
Fish and Game is developing a predator management plan for the Panhandle with the goal of increasing elk calf survival, said Wayne Wakkinen, acting regional wildlife manager.
Wildlife managers like to see 30 elk calves for every 100 cows during aerial surveys in the spring. In recent years, calf ratios in the upper St. Joe have dropped to the low 20s and teens in what was once one of the state’s most productive elk hunting areas. Calf survival is also a concern in part of the Coeur d’Alene drainage, Wakkinen said.
In addition to the wolf baiting proposal, Fish and Game also wants to liberalize hunts for black bears and cougars in parts of the Panhandle. Some hunting units would have longer seasons for bears and cougars, and hunters would be able to use electronic calls and purchase a tag for taking a second animal.