WILDLIFE -- Idaho Fish and Game Department biologists have wasted no time gearing up for their renewed chance to begin managing wolves on the state level, even though some federal guidelines still apply.
The federal budget bill passed by Congress included a rider that removes wolves from many endangered species protections and once again put the re-introduced species under state management under the provisions of the 2002 Idaho Wolf Management Plan.
Read on for updates from Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game's Panhandle Region wildlife manager:
"Fish and Game biologists are updating wolf population and distribution estimates provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nez Perce Tribe after six months of not being involved in day-to-day monitoring," he said.
Next to happen:
- Wolf tags will be available after delisting rule is published (sometime the next few weeks).
- Biologists will present updated information to the Fish and Game Commission at the May meeting in Lewiston.
- Fish and Game will develop and present harvest options for a fall wolf hunt to commissioners when they meet in July.
- The commission will likely develop a harvest strategy at a meeting scheduled for August.
- Fish and Game is evaluating actions to address the elk mortality and calf recruitment problems in Lolo Zone. The Fish and Wildlife Service was prepared to approve these actions under the 10j Rule of the Endangered Species Act, approval will not be required following delisting.
- In 2009, Idaho proved it can conduct a orderly hunt: 188 wolves were harvested achieving 85 percent of the 220 harvest limit set by the commission. Only two violations were issued statewide.