Topics

Wolves

Summary

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


  • Wolf hunts get court hearing

    PASADENA, Calif. – Wildlife advocates appeared in federal court Tuesday seeking to stop gray wolf hunts that are already well under way in the Northern Rockies, arguing that Congress overstepped …


  • Panel considers wolf plan

    Washington is already home to five packs of gray wolves, and state wildlife managers are planning for more. On Thursday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission deliberated on a wolf …


  • State’s wolf plan meeting today

    As Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are slashing budgets for existing programs, they’re meeting in Spokane today to deal with yet another new challenge – wolves. The state Fish and …


  • Yellowstone wolf skeletons studied

    BILLINGS – Yellowstone National Park wolves tend to be healthier than wolves in other areas, based on an examination of about 160 of their skeletons over the last three years, …


  • Washington groups petition to strip protections from wolves

    ELLENSBURG, Wash. (AP) — Two groups have filed a petition with the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves in the eastern …


  • Field reports: Columbia refuge mulls camping, hunting changes

    OUTPLAN – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing a new management plan for the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, which could mean changes for campers, hunters and anglers. The …


  • Idaho targets wolves

    An archery hunter near Bozeman killed the first wolf to be harvested in the gray wolf hunting seasons that opened in Montana earlier this month. And at least 10 gray …


  • Captive wolf on the lam

    When Mark Earls saw a shaggy, white wolf crossing a road in North Idaho’s Hoodoo Valley, he pulled out his cellphone to snap a picture of it. “What boggled him …


  • Montana begins wolf hunt season

    BILLINGS – Gray wolf hunts are under way in Montana and Idaho as state officials seek to sharply reduce the predator’s numbers in hopes of curbing attacks on livestock and …


  • Federal poaching trial rescheduled

    The federal trial for a Methow Valley ranch family accused of killing protected wolves and trying to smuggle pelts out of the country has been rescheduled to Jan. 30. The …


  • Landers: Idaho wolf tag sales lagging, so far

    Idaho wolf tag purchases are barely better than home sales. Maybe it’s the economy or the recent lawsuits that threatened to stall the hunting season again, but wolf permits are …


  • Groups ask court to halt wolf hunts

    BOISE – Environmentalists have asked a federal appeals court for an emergency injunction to halt wolf hunts scheduled to start in a few weeks in Idaho and Montana. The request …


  • Idaho panel sets wolf hunting season, quotas

    The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a 10-month-long wolf hunting season in the upper Clearwater River basin Thursday and also increased the trapping season beyond what was recommended by …


  • Idaho commission approves wolf hunt rules, dates

    The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved a new set of rules guiding public hunting and trapping of wolves in the state’s forests and backcountry.


  • Area wolf poaching case to trial in September

    The case of a Methow Valley ranch family accused of killing protected wolves and smuggling their hides out of the country is set for federal trial in Spokane this fall. …


  • Idaho wolf hunting plan: No limit

    Idaho is planning a fall wolf hunt with no overall limit - and no limits in four zones, the Panhandle, Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones - because of “documented …


  • Wolf’s delisting could imperil other species

    WASHINGTON – The Endangered Species Act has long had its foes, particularly in the West. But in recent months, the law has taken an unprecedented hit from Congress. Republicans, led …


  • Three indicted on charges in endangered wolf deaths

    A federal grand jury has indicted a Twisp, Wash., man for illegally killing two wolves near his property and trying to ship one of the pelts to Canada. After Tom …


  • Eye on Boise: Six receive state Medal of Honor

    It was an evening last June when an EMS crew from the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department was dispatched to a scene where a vehicle had crashed into a home. Firefighters …


  • Aerial killing of wolves called off

    LEWISTON – Aerial gunners in a helicopter have killed at least five wolves in north-central Idaho since Wednesday in an effort to protect elk herds, but the hunting has been …


  • Wolf protections lifted; Idaho, Montana plan hunts this fall

    The Obama administration on Wednesday moved to lift Endangered Species Act protections for 5,500 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes, drawing the line on the predators’ rapid …


  • Gray wolves go back to state control

    The Obama administration today announced it is lifting endangered species act protections for 5,500 gray wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes.


  • Bangs retiring after leading wolf recovery

    HELENA – Ed Bangs, who for 23 years led the effort to reintroduce and recover healthy wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains, is retiring from the U.S. Fish and …


  • Despite reservations, Otter signs wolf measure

    BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has signed into law a measure to allow the state to declare a disaster due to wolves and take emergency measures to combat the …


  • Otter signs wolf disaster bill into law

    Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has signed into law a measure to allow the state to declare a disaster due to wolves and take emergency measures to combat the animals.


  • Otter, officials to discuss wolf hunt

    LEWISTON – Officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game plan to meet with Gov. Butch Otter on Monday to discuss a public wolf hunting season. “We will be …


  • Budget rider gives states wolf control

    Gray wolves in most of the Northern Rockies will be removed from the endangered species list under a policy rider attached to Congress’ budget bill. The rider returns wolf management …


  • Budget would delist wolves

    BILLINGS – Gray wolves in Montana and Idaho would be taken off the endangered list under the budget bill pending before Congress, two Western lawmakers said. Inclusion of the language …


  • Field reports: Settlement paves way for wolf delisting, hunting revenue

    FISHING – The tradition of Washington salmon season being debated and set on the West Side as been altered to give East Siders access to the process. On Wednesday, the …


  • Litigants endorse settlement allowing wolf hunts to go on

    BILLINGS – Facing mounting pressure from Congress, wildlife advocates and the U.S. Department of the Interior on Friday reached an agreement to lift gray wolf protections in Idaho and Montana …


  • Deal would lift wolf protection in Idaho, Montana

    Facing mounting pressure from Congress, wildlife advocates and the U.S. Department of Interior today reached an agreement to lift gray wolf protections in Montana and Idaho and allow hunting of …


  • Field reports: Roosevelt cabins could be removed

    PUBLIC LANDS – The National Park Service may require the removal of 25 private cabins that have been built and upgraded within the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. That’s one …

 

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