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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, April 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The grey wolf has made a comeback across the Northern Rockies, thanks to federal protection, and Idaho and Montana now allow wolf hunting and trapping to keep the population in check.

Few wildlife conservation efforts have been as controversial as that of the grey wolf in the Northern Rockies. Federal efforts to protect the wolf have clashed with state efforts to control wolf populations and protect livestock and game from predation by wolf packs.

Idaho and Montana have been given federal authority to manage wolf numbers using public hunts. Federal officials require Idaho to maintain a population of at least 150 wolves and 10 breeding pairs.

Idaho wildlife officials have boosted bag limits, expanded trapping and extended hunting seasons in some areas to help further reduce wolf populations in all corners of the state. Its 10-month wolf season runs until June.

Idaho’s wolf managers estimated 500 to 600 wolves roamed the state as of spring 2012, down from the more than 1,000 when the 2011 hunting season opened in August.

Hunters and trappers killed 364 wolves since the 2011 season opened, while dozens more wolves have died of natural causes or been killed for preying on livestock or targeted as part of a strategy to lessen impacts on specific elk herds in the state.

A federal appeals court in March rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that wanted to block wolf hunts across the Northern Rockies. The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves in spring 2011.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals. Wildlife advocates claimed in their lawsuit that Congress violated the separation of powers by interfering with the courts. But the court said Congress was within its rights, and that lawmakers had appropriately amended the Endangered Species Act to deal with Northern Rockies wolves.

There are more than 1,700 wolves in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and expanding populations in portions of Eastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. Wolf hunting could resume in Wyoming this fall.

In parts of Montana, ranchers and local officials frustrated with continuing attacks on livestock have proposed bounties for hunters that kill wolves. Montana wildlife officials said they will consider ways to expand hunting after 166 wolves were killed this season, short of the state’s 220-wolf quota.

Wolves once thrived across North America but were exterminated across most of the continental U.S. by the 1930s, through government sponsored poisoning and bounty programs.

Wolves were put on the endangered list in 1974. Over the last two decades, state and federal agencies have spent more than $100 million on wolf restoration programs across the country. There are more than 4,500 of the animals in the upper Great Lakes and a struggling population of several dozen wolves in the Desert Southwest.

Prior lawsuits resulted first in the animals’ reintroduction to the Northern Rockies and then later kept them on the endangered list for a decade after the species reached recovery goal of 300 wolves in three states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring the hunts. But agency officials have said they have no plans to intervene because the states have pledged to manage wolves responsibly.

Federal officials have pledged to step in to restore endangered species protections if wolf numbers drop to less than 100 animals in either Montana or Idaho.

Even without hunting, wolves are shot regularly in the region in response to livestock attacks. Since their reintroduction, more than 1,600 wolves have been shot by government wildlife agents or ranchers.

Latest updates in this topic

  • Cascade wolf sightings increase

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Wolves that have moved into Oregon from Idaho appear to be extending their range west, with recent sightings in the southern Cascades and the Ochoco Mountains. …

  • Wolf plans at different stages

    As Wash- ington continues to formulate a wolf management plan and Idaho has extended the first wolf hunting season in decades, Montana wildlife managers are regrouping. Montana’s first fair-chase wolf …

  • Wolf season extended by three months

    Idaho’s wolf hunt will be extended through March 31, or until each hunting zone reaches its quota, the state’s Fish and Game Commission decided at a Thursday meeting in Coeur …

  • Idaho’s wolf-hunting season extended three months

    Idaho’s wolf hunt will be extended through March 31, or until each hunting zone reaches its quota, the state’s Fish and Game Commission decided at a Thursday meeting in Coeur …

  • Idaho shuts another wolf hunting zone

    State officials say hunters have reached their limit for killing wolves in a hunting zone in northern Idaho.

  • Outside View: Washington state’s plans for wolves reasonable

    We have wolves in Washington. Wolves are not optional. We cannot declare the state a wolf-free zone or build an impenetrable wolf barrier along our border to keep the interloper …

  • Idaho may consider extending wolf hunt season

    Idaho wildlife officials are thinking about extending the wolf hunting season in certain hunting zones across the state.

  • Wolf plan meeting Tuesday in Spokane

    ENDANGERED SPECIES – Public comments will be heard in Spokane on Tuesday on a recently released draft management plan with guidelines for removing gray wolves from Washington’s state endangered species …

  • State may pay wolf-kill damages

    OLYMPIA – Hoping to ease Washington ranchers’ concerns about gray wolves, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing what may be the most generous compensation in the West …

  • Wolf plan to get public hearings

    A draft management and conservation plan released recently for gray wolves in Washington presents a blueprint for ushering the predators through their gradual revival to eventual delisting from state endangered …

  • Montana suspends wolf hunting near Yellowstone

    Montana wildlife officials suspended wolf hunting near Yellowstone National Park on Thursday, after nine kills in just three weeks pushed the area’s wolf harvest close to its season-long limit.

  • 29 wolves shot in Idaho so far this hunting season

    Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials said a female wolf with the Phantom Hill pack was killed by a hunter, marking the 29th wolf kill since Idaho’s hunting season …

  • Fish and Wildlife unveils wolf plan

    International borders and state lines are no deterrent to gray wolves, which are drifting into Washington from neighboring packs in British Columbia, Idaho and Montana. At least two wolf packs …

  • First North Idaho wolf kill reported

    A wolf was shot in the Marble Creek area of the St. Joe River drainage Thursday during the opening day of wolf season in the Idaho Panhandle.

  • Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from sky

    BOISE — A shotgun-wielding motorized parachutist fired on a pack of wolves earlier this year from the eastern Idaho sky, something forbidden even under a state permit that allows aerial …

  • Out & About

    World-record bass caught in Japan OUTCAST – The world-record largemouth bass that trophy anglers have been stalking for decades from Florida to California apparently has been caught – by a …

  • Special wolf tags to be auctioned

    BOISE – Idaho is looking at auctioning off 10 “special wolf tags” to the highest bidders as a fundraiser for wolf management. Such an auction was authorized by state lawmakers …

  • ‘Special’ wolf tags could go to auction

    Idaho is looking at auctioning off 10 “special wolf tags” to the highest bidders, as a fundraiser for wolf management.

  • Wolf advocates won’t appeal ruling allowing hunts

    Wolf advocates have decided not to appeal a federal judge’s decision that let wolf hunting seasons go forward in Idaho and Montana.

  • Out & About

  • Ruling allows wolf hunting to go on

    Wolf hunting can continue in Idaho, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, but he hinted that the bigger court case behind the request may land the wolf back on the endangered …

  • Man cited for wolf poaching

    An Eagle, Idaho, man was cited by the Idaho Fish and Game department this week for poaching after he shot a wolf outside an approved hunting zone.

  • Gray wolf hunts can continue, federal judge says

    A federal judge said gray wolf hunts can go on for the first time in decades in the Northern Rockies, just months after the animals were removed from the endangered …

  • Trust the real experts in wolf debate

    Wolves are running a spectrum of emotions in the thoughts of people across the nation this week. Certainly it’s news to ask a hunter why he wants to kill a …

  • Idaho’s wolf hunt is still on, for now

    BOISE – Gray wolves were back in the crosshairs of hunters Tuesday, just months after they were removed from the federal endangered species list and eight decades since being hunted …

  • Real estate agent takes Idaho’s first gray wolf

    Gray wolves were back in the cross hairs of hunters on Tuesday, just months after they were removed from the federal endangered species list and eight decades since being hunted …

  • Judge weighs wolf decision as Idaho hunters head out

    BOISE – While a federal judge ponders whether to issue an injunction stopping wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana, Idaho hunters are heading into the woods, ready to target wolves …

  • Start of wolf hunt nears with no ruling yet from judge

    While a federal judge ponders whether to issue an injunction stopping wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana, Idaho Fish and Game officials are hurriedly preparing signs to warn away hunters …

  • Idaho wildlife manager talks about elk herds and wolf packs

    Fewer North Idaho families will have elk steaks in their freezers this fall. Two severe winters, plus a growing wolf population, have dramatically reduced elk calf survival rates. To allow …

  • Wolf hunting just one facet of management, experts say

    Some tough love – including regulated hunting – is needed to carve a permanent niche for wolves reintroduced to the Northern Rocky Mountains, say leading wolf authorities in this region …

  • Pro-wolf group plans to boycott Idaho spuds

    BOISE – A Connecticut-based animal rights group angry over Idaho’s planned wolf hunt aims to punch the state in its tuber. Friends of Animals is urging foes of the hunt, …

  • Wolf hunt foes, supporters say science backs them up

    Milt Turley, an elk hunter, hung a sign on his pickup that read: “Wolves are eating my family’s dinner as we speak.” Others carried signs proclaiming “Wolves – part of …