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Idaho wolf numbers remain steady; wolf kills by hunters decline

PREDATORS -- Gray wolf numbers in Idaho appear to be roughly the same or growing as at the end of 2013 while the number of wolves killed by hunters and trappers is significantly down, according to the state Fish and Game Department's annual 2014 Wolf Monitoring Progress Report released today.

Idaho biologists documented 104 wolf packs in Idaho at the end of 2014 compared with 107 at the end of 2013. In addition, there were 23 documented packs counted by Montana, Wyoming, and Washington that had established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary compared with 28 verified in 2013. 

Not all wolves or wolf packs are presumed documented.

An estimated 770 wolves were associated with documented packs of wolves in Idaho at the end of 2014 compared with 659 verified in the 2013 report. 

The 2014 annual summary of wolf monitoring in Idaho shows wolf numbers remain well above the 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs required to keep gray wolves off the endangered species list under the 2009 federal de-listing rule.

Idaho's minimum wolf population count peaked at 846 in 2008.

Breeding pair status was evaluated for 43 packs in Idaho at the end of 2014. Of these, 26 packs met breeding pair criteria at the end of 2014, and 17 packs did not. No determination of breeding pair status was made for the remaining 61 packs.

Wolf harvest by hunters and trappers was lower in 2014 compared to the prior year.  Hunters and trappers harvested 256 wolves in 2014, 100 fewer than in 2013.

Fewer total wolves were killed in response to depredations on livestock and predation on big game populations in 2014, with 67 wolves taken, 27 wolves less than during 2013.

Average pack size was 6.5 wolves at the end of 2014, higher than the 5.4 wolves in 2013, but smaller than the 8.1 wolves per pack average during the 3 years prior to the establishment of harvest seasons in 2009.

Nineteen wolf deaths were attributed to other human causes, and two to natural causes. The causes of 16 wolf mortalities could not be determined and are listed as unknown.

The number of cattle and sheep lost to wolf depredation was below the average of the last 10 years, as was the number of wolves killed in response to depredations.  During 2014, 43 cattle, 103 sheep, three dogs and one horse were confirmed as wolf kills. Ten cattle, 7 sheep, and 1 dog were classified as probable wolf depredations.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires wolf recovery states including Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon, to file the annual wolf status reports.

Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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