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10 wolves killed in northern Idaho to boost elk numbers

Wolves.

Wolves. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed March 14 that workers killed 10 wolves in late February and March, using a helicopter. File photo.

Federal officials have killed 10 wolves in northern Idaho at the request of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to boost elk numbers, and state officials say more might be killed this winter.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services said March 14 that workers used a helicopter in the Clearwater National Forest in late February and early March to kill the wolves.

“At the request of Idaho, we did remove wolves in that region,” said agency spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa.

Idaho officials say the area’s elk population in what’s called the Lolo zone has plummeted in the last 25 years from about 16,000 to about 2,000, and that wolves are to blame along with black bears, mountain lions and a habitat transition to more forests.

Fish and Game has liberal harvest rules for bears and mountain lions, but wolves are more challenging to hunt. So in six of the last seven years, Fish and Game has sought to kill wolves to boost elk. Elk are a prominent big game species in Idaho and hunters have decried a scarcity of elk in the region. Elk are also a source of revenue through hunting license sales for Fish and Game.

“We’ve made an obligation to try to manage this elk herd at levels at maybe not peak levels, but at least bring it back to levels that we’ve seen in the past that were adequate for hunting,” said Jim Hayden, a biologist with Fish and Game.

Officials say Fish and Game license dollars paid for the federal agency to kill the wolves. State and federal officials didn’t have the cost immediately available.

Environmental groups blasted the killing of the wolves, focusing on the operation being made public only after it happened.

“Now more than ever, Wildlife Services and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game need to be up front with the public about their plans to kill wolves,” said Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Idaho stopped monitoring wolves last year and stopped releasing annual reports revealing how many wolves remain in Idaho. It’s troubling to see this ever-increasing veil of secrecy fall over the management of Idaho’s wolves.”

The last intensive wolf count in Idaho was in 2015 when officials said the state had an estimated 786 wolves at the end of the year. That’s also the last year Fish and Game was required to do that type of count after wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List.

But Fish and Game has continued to monitor wolf populations. Hayden said that based on DNA samples from more than 700 wolf droppings, nearly 150 remote cameras and other information, at least 11 packs are in the Lolo zone. Hayden said the agency manages populations and doesn’t count individuals. But he said an Idaho wolf pack typically has six to nine wolves. That means there are roughly 65 to 100 wolves in the Lolo zone.

Fish and Game estimates that statewide there are more than 90 packs, Hayden said, far above the state’s minimum requirement of 15 packs. The federal government could take back management of Idaho wolves if the population gets too low.

Hayden said the state and federal agencies do not announce wolf-kill operations out of concern for the safety of the helicopter crew as well as the last-minute nature of the operations. He said a snowy day must be followed by clear flying weather, and there’s a chance that if those conditions occur again this winter federal workers will try to kill more wolves in the Lolo zone.

“After you go after the first one, the wolves are scattering, so it’s not common to take a whole pack,” he said.

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8 comments

  1. Anybody dumb enough to listen to Rocholme should apply for a mental disability check. He’s enjoyed a nice European vacation from your donations LOL. Yeah biology and ecology are all part of a ZOG conspiracy to end hunting. That guy David Ikei that claims the world is run by reptilian alians makes more sense.

  2. Get rid of these gray (Canadian) wolves today…all of them.

  3. You need ” standing ” to sue.
    I filed a petition to delist wolves in October of 2001.
    This standing is recognised October 17, 2005 in the Federal Register

  4. Wolves are nonessential species. They are not wanted nore are they needed.
    Wolves do not balance ecosystems. They do not change rivers. They destroy wildlife and create a imbalance that takes ungulates decades to recover from without human management.
    To say otherwise is to not know anything about the disaster that is the wolves.

  5. How much death and destruction of animals and humans will be necessary before it is realized that there is no way we can coexist with wolves.

  6. Idaho is a lousy neighbor. Your state was one of two seedbeds for the spread wolves to Washington and Oregon. Thank you Idaho for spreading your diseased wolves to decimate our limiited ungulate populations and for introducing wolf depredation to our local area ranchers. You are a real “gem” of a state.

  7. The numbers produced by Idaho Fish and Game, Jim Hayden, are a complete fabrication. His use of modeling, as well as the department relying on modeling, are what have, in part, led to the complete collapse of most of Idaho’s elk herds, and the nearly total annihilation of our Moose. Ten wolves removed is nowhere near enough. It is an absolute fact that in order to keep a wolf population from increasing, at least 70% of the wolves must be killed. Idaho hunters and trappers aren’t even coming close to that, and Idaho Fish NO Game isn’t either.

    So, what is Jim Hayden’s job anyway? We know he completely failed as the big game manager for the Panhandle after he oversaw the destruction of the elk and moose, caused by wolves and his “Modeling” is the vehicle that he used to offset the damage for two decades; so how exactly can a person get a promotion, after being a complete failure for twenty years? Jim should have been fired and banned from using his computer modeling as a weapon to destroy Idaho’s once abundant elk and moose.

    As for that dingbat Marc Cooke, rambling on and stumbling for a sliver of background and experience, he should realize that we aren’t in 1988 anymore, and wolf pimping legal maneuvering isn’t going to work anymore. If he and his halfwit wolf pimps want to continue causing the destruction of our wildlife, we will start using lawsuits to break them personally and take every dime they have. Their mission has nothing to do with saving wolves; their mission is to end grazing cattle on public ground and to end hunting. The welfare is over, and we are going to strip wolves from the ESA forever. There’s a new sheriff in town, and he is going to change everything. We are also going after those welfare lawyer funds, known as the Equal Access to Justice, and when that slush fund dries up, none of the fat slobs will exist to file lawsuits over the vilest Pariah on the landscape.

  8. Let’s see this for what it is. Idaho doesn’t want wolves and is systematically removing them every opportunity they can create. At some point this will trigger a review and wolves will be relisted under the ESA. I look forward to the day we can engage them in court!