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Idaho reports 11 percent decrease in wolves during 2012

This track was left, apparently by a wolf, near the carcass of an elk in Avery, Idaho.
This track was left, apparently by a wolf, near the carcass of an elk in Avery, Idaho.

PREDATORS -- Idaho's gray wolf population at the end of 2012 was at least 683, a decrease of 11 percent from 2011, according to the federally required annual state wolf monitoring report ( posted online today by the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Humans killed 418 of the 425 wolves known to have died in the state last year by hunting, trapping and state and federal agency control efforts to protect livestock, the report says.

However, the number of documented packs had increased and wolves were occupying territories throughout the state.

Montana also has reported a decrease in wolves in its 2012 annual report, the first decrease since 2004.

In Washington, where wolves are still under Endangered Species protections, the number of wolves increased signficantly from 2011 to 2012, with the number pegged at around 100.  

Idaho biologists documented 117 packs in the state at the end of 2012 -- an increase of seven from 2011 -- plus 23 border packs that overlap in Montana, Wyoming and Washington.  But total numbers of wolves have gradually decreased because of hunting and other efforts since the population peaked at a minimum of 856 in 2009. 

Of the 66 Idaho packs known to have reproduced, 35 packs qualified as breeding pairs at the end of the year, the report says. Those reproductive packs produced a minimum of 187 pups.

A new crop of pups will be born in dens across the state this month.

Wolves were confirmed to have killed 73 cattle, 312 sheep and two dogs in Idaho last year, the report says.

The Panhandle Zone was occupied by 15 documented resident packs in 2012 -- up three from 2011 --  plus five known resident border packs, three suspected packs and one other documented group during 2012, the report says. Three new resident packs were documented in 2012.

Wolf recovery and monitoring reports from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and more recently from Washington and Oregon are posted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Rockies Gray Wolf website.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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