Idaho Releases Wolf Hunt Stats

Idaho’s first modern wolf hunt ends tomorrow, but state officials released figures from the seven-month season that showed the hunt appears to have been well-managed and, like Montana’s, came in under the quota.

As of yesterday, 185 wolf tags had been notched, 84 percent of the overall statewide limit. Harvest quotas were met in seven of the Gem State’s 12 wolf zones.

Montana’s season closed after two months when 72 of 75 tags were filled.

Both states’ hunts followed last spring’s Federal delisting of the species after 15 straight years of increasing wolf numbers and seven straight years where minimum recovery goals had been met. Lawsuits and Wyoming’s inadequate management plan held up moving wolves out of threatened status.

In Idaho, harvested wolves ranged in size from 54 to 127 pounds, with males averaging 100 pounds, and females averaging 79 pounds. Fifty-eight percent were male; 15 percent were less than a year old.

(Montana’s largest wolf was 117 pounds; the average adult weighed 97 pounds. Fifty-seven percent were males.)

Of the nearly 26,500 tags sold in Idaho, nearly 25,750 were bought by residents while over 675 went to nonresidents. State citizens shot 86 percent of all wolves taken.

IDFG reports that October, which corresponds to general big-game rifle hunts, saw the most shot while January saw the fewest.

“The season has succeeded in halting the growth of Idaho’s wolf population,” Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said in a press release. “It showed that Fish and Game is capable of monitoring and managing a well-regulated wolf hunt.”

IDFG also said that the hunt “showed that fears of wholesale slaughter of wolves were unfounded,” and say that “hunters exhibited good compliance with the rules and with check-in and call-in requirements.”

In recent weeks, Groen has called for “more aggressive wolf management” in the Lolo Zone where elk numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. He cites wolves as a current factor, but notes that habitat, winterkill and bear and cougar predation has played a large roll in the decline from 16,000 animals in the 1980s to 2,178 at last count. Only 13 of 27 wolf tags were filled for the relatively brushy region.

Another 138 wolves were killed in livestock depredation control actions and from other causes.

At year-end, Idaho’s wolf population stood at a minimum of 843 wolves in 94 packs, and 49 packs are considered breeding pairs. The average pack size was 7.8 wolves. A total of 142 wolves are radio-collared.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports an overall population of “1,706 wolves in 242 packs and 115 breeding pairs” in all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and parts of Eastern Washington and Oregon at the end of last year.

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