Nineteen wolves were killed in Idaho’s Lolo region last month in an ongoing effort to improve elk survival in the rugged area on the Idaho-Montana border.
Federal Wildlife Service agents shot the wolves from an aircraft at the request of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. State officials say that both habitat changes and predation are responsible for the Lolo’s declining elk herds.
The Lolo elk population has dropped from 16,000 elk in 1989 to roughly 2,100 elk in 2010, and possibly fewer than 1,000 this year. State studies indicate that wolves have become the primary predator affecting calf and cow elk survival in the Lolo.
In addition to the 19 wolves killed by government agents, another 11 wolves were taken by hunters and trappers in the Lolo zone during the 2014-2015 harvest season.
Helicopter crews also captured and placed radio collars on both elk and wolves this winter to monitor to whether the Lolo’s elk herds are increasing in response to wolf harvest and government control actions.
The state doesn’t have a cost estimate yet for last month’s wolf control action in the Lolo elk zone. State officials said the cost will be paid using Wolf Depredation Control Board money funded through purchases of hunting licenses.