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
Wolves may be exploring new territory in Western Washington
Gray wolves appear to be checking out territory west of the Cascades in eastern Skagit County, according to photos, tracks and other signs, federal officials say.
Field Reports: Washington sets gray wolf conflict protocols, requires deterrents
Washington has released a revised “Protocol for Wolf-Livestock Interactions” that requires livestock producers to try at least two proactive deterrence measures appropriate to their operation before the state would consider …
Reward upped to $25,000 for info about Yellowstone white wolf death
Yellowstone National Park is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information about the shooting death of a rare white wolf near Gardiner, Montana.
$24K reward offered for killer of Yellowstone wolf
The reward for information leading to whoever shot a rare white wolf found inside Yellowstone National Park rose to $24,000 this week after a wolf advocacy groups and a Go …
Yellowstone wolf family tree and genealogy available online
Details of Yellowstone National Park’s individual wolves and their inter-relatedness can be found in one place: online at Ancestry.com, a website formerly reserved for rooting out human family trees.
Washington looking for ways to control wolves without killing them, keep information private
New laws look for nonlethal ways to control wolves, privacy for people who report wolf attacks.
Living with predators – adaptation
“Grizzlies won’t be a problem for livestock, they’ll prey on hikers.” So said the wildlife conflict specialist from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Professor accuses WSU of violations after he criticized cattle rancher, wolf pack removal
Washington State University professor and researcher Robert Wielgus filed a complaint against WSU on Thursday alleging the university has seriously damaged his academic career through the unwarranted use of suppression, …
Advocates say wolves may help curb disease in elk
Wolves are the perfect tool to help reduce the spread of chronic wasting disease among elk, deer and moose, wolf advocates told the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission on last …
Yellowstone elk herd growth tricky to manage
Managing the Northern Yellowstone elk herd, one of the most popular in the world, is no easy task.
Some information on wolf control programs won’t be made public
Personal information on people involved in fighting wolf attacks on livestock would be kept from public.
More wolf packs expected in southwest Oregon
When gray wolf OR-7 made his historic and famous trek from northeastern Oregon to find a mate and territory of his own, the lone wolf wandered well over 1,000 miles …
Montana plans to keep wolf hunt quotas outside Yellowstone
Montana wildlife officials are proposing to keep the number of wolves that can be hunted or trapped just outside of Yellowstone National Park at four.
Washington wolf population continues to grow
Wildlife officials say the Washington wolf population is on the rise in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife latest report.
Wolf attack in Eastern Oregon leaves 16 chickens, seven geese missing
Wildlife officials say a wolf pack killed at least eight chickens and a goose in Eastern Oregon.
Some fish-wildlife legislation still alive in Olympia
Of more than 2,700 bills introduced by the 2017 Washington Legislature, about 650 made it past the halfway cutoff and were still alive going into this week in Olympia.
Report: Washington wolves continue steady increase of nearly 30 percent a year
Gray wolves continued their steady increase in population and range in Washington last year despite the deaths of at least 14 animals, according to a 25-page state report on the …
Parker: Bear and wolf proposal is unconscionable
Senators should vote to leave the protective rule in place – not only to protect our wildlife from politicians’ predatory practices but also to reassure Americans that the chamber still …
Idaho wolf-killing account to get $400K more for ‘slush fund’
The Idaho Legislature’s joint budget committee voted Wednesday to put another $400,000 in state general tax funds into the Wolf Control Depredation Board next year to kill problem wolves – …
House OKs bill to exempt some info about wolf attacks
The House has passed a bill that would exempt from public disclosure personal information about people who report or respond to wolf attacks in Washington state.
Board would look for nonlethal ways to control wolves in northeastern Washington
Washington would look for nonlethal ways to keep wolves from killing livestock in four northeast counties under a bill the House passed unanimously Monday.
Gray wolf recovery projects continue to drain millions of dollars from state coffers
Wolves were removed from the Endangered Species protections in Idaho and Montana in 2011 – eight years after wolf numbers had exceeded the minimum set for recovery in both states. …
Court rules to lift federal protections for Wyoming wolves
A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled to lift protections that kept gray wolves an endangered species in Wyoming for years after federal officials removed packs in neighboring states from …
Feds kill wolf on private land with cyanide trap
Officials say a gray wolf was unintentionally killed in rural northeast Oregon by a cyanide device used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Bill advances that would exempt some info about wolf attacks
A bill that would exempt from public disclosure personal information about people who report or respond to wolf attacks in Washington state has cleared a House committee.
Snow delays Oregon wolf count, management plan update
Heavy snow in Oregon in recent months has caused problems for wildlife officials in charge of tracking the state’s wolf population.
Oregon proposal could allow public to hunt ‘problem’ wolves
Oregon wildlife officials have long maintained that no hunting season is planned for the state’s wolf population, even as the number of wolves in state continues to grow.
Field Reports: Profanity Peak Pack removal cost state $135K
Washington wildlife managers spent $135,000 to kill seven of 11 gray wolves in a pack that had attacked or killed about 15 cattle on national forest grazing allotments in northeastern …
Escaped wolf from eastern Idaho tourist attraction shot, killed
A wolf that escaped a tourist attraction in southeastern Idaho has been shot and killed by its owner.
Biologists hope to capture, re-collar wolf
State and federal biologists are setting out traps nightly in hopes of catching and collaring gray wolf OR-7 or his mate so they can regain the tracking capabilities that allowed …
Collared wolf dead, 3 others survive in Idaho wilderness
Three of four wolves fitted with tracking collars in a central Idaho wilderness area last year by state officials without federal approval are surviving as another winter approaches.
Washington wolf shot in Montana after roaming 700 miles
A young gray wolf that left its pack in northeastern Washington this summer traveled about 700 miles before being shot in central Montana last month while attacking sheep.