Last September, as Idaho prepared for its wolf hunt, we talked to a pair of Panhandle sportsmen about how the season might shape up.
Former guide Brian Peters told reporter Ralph Bartholdt that hunters would have a tough go of it, if his experience in Alaska had any bearing.
“In most cases, (my clients) never saw a wolf,” Peters said.
As for how to hunt them, he said you could try howling them in, but also that “Wolves learn fast.”
Ralph also spoke to Milt Turley, a 60-year North Idaho resident described as an “avid elk hunter” and who was eager to shoot a wolf. He writes of an encounter Turley had with watching a wolf kill site over several days”
“Wolves are extremely intelligent, and the patience of a hunter who plans to take part in this year’s scheduled Idaho wolf hunt must rival a wolf’s smarts.”
Today, Turley’s back in the news, in a Spokane Spokesman-Review article.
Despite living in wolf country, he has yet to fill his tag.
“We’re finding out that it’s damn difficult to kill a wolf,” he tells reporter Becky Kramer, adding, “I’ve seen four or five wolves this year, but boy, are they quick. And, they’re wary now.”
Which probably is for the best, if you live, work or recreate in the region.
She reports that 155 wolves in Idaho’s 220-animal quota have been killed. She also writes that, according to IDFG aerial surveys, elk populations are actually higher in the Panhandle’s Unit 7 today than they were when wolves first showed up in the area in 1998.
Kramer has another article on wolves today too — indeed, the Spokesman-Review’s front page is all wolves, all the time. It’s about how large Idaho wolves are. Based on IDFG data, the average of hunter- and road-kills have been 86 pounds for adult females, 101 pounds for adult males.
That’s well below the larger size some outdoorsmen claim, though there was at least one 130-pound male.
Meanwhile, in regional anti-wolf/elk-advocacy circles, questions are being raised about the kind of wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies back in 1995 and about a tapeworm those animals carry.
Those are parried in Kramer’s article, but they will continue to make the rounds as Web sites like savelk.com and http://washingtonwolf.info draw attention to the issue of wolves in the Northwest and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife works on its wolf management plan.
And there was also news recently about National Park Service biologists suggesting using triploid, err, neutered wolves to help keep deer and elk populations in check in national parks. Though it’s just in the “germination” stage, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist who’s in charge of wolves in the Northern Rockies, Ed Bangs, reportedly said, “Wolves fix very few problems compared to the ones they create.”