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.
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Field reports: Wolves spread into Western Washington
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Field reports: Coast salmon seasons set by Pacific council
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Out & About: Film on Oregon wolf’s journey screening at The Bing
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Hunters serve as main source of coyote management year round
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Idaho lawmakers vote to renew wolf-kill program funds
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Bill to revise wolf plan passes Washington House
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Report: State’s wolf population makes comeback
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Idaho suspends license of Wolf People store, exhibit
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Washington bill calls to adjust wolf plan
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New members appointed to Wolf Advisory Group
Feb. 12, 2015 in Outdoors on Page O4 Nine members have been added to the committee that advises the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on wolf recovery and management. Their appointments, for two-year terms that run through … 2
In brief: Outdoor advocates rally against land proposals
Feb. 12, 2015 in Outdoors, Sports on Page O3 Sportsmen’s groups and outdoors business owners have scheduled rallies at the Idaho and Montana capitols to protest efforts by some state lawmakers to take control of federal public lands. The … 1
Field reports: New hiker permit quotas help spread ‘Wild’ influenced Pacific Crest Trail crowd
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Out & About: Panel brings 6 perspective on wolf revival
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Legislative committee takes on testy wolves and wildfire bills
Feb. 6, 2015 in City on Page A9 OLYMPIA – Two of the most contentious issues in rural Eastern Washington, wildfires and wolves, are generating demands for change and a stream of legislative proposals. After a hearing on … 4
Kretz legislation proposes relocating wolves
Feb. 5, 2015 in Idaho, Outdoors on Page A1 Washington’s best wolf habitat is in the southern Cascade Mountains, where vast federal lands support more than 20,000 elk in the state’s two largest herds. State biologists expect wolves to … 23
Idaho wolf control board seeks renewed funding
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Wolves, predators of caribou, will be killed by B.C. wildlife officials
Jan. 17, 2015 in Outdoors on Page A1 Up to 24 wolves in British Columbia just north of Idaho will be shot by helicopter gunners this winter in an effort to save the 18 remaining southern Selkirk Mountains … 76
Canadian wolves to be shot to save woodland caribou
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Twentieth anniversary of gray wolves in Inland Northwest rouses mixed responses
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