December 29, 2013 in Outdoors
2013 outdoors: Wolf issues
Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review
The gray wolf, reintroduced to the Rockies in the mid-1990s, continued to leave its mark across the Northwest in 2013 and into the legislatures. Here are some highlights.
• Idaho and Montana report significantly lower numbers of wolves for the first time since reintroduction, owing to hunting, trapping and wildlife control. But wildlife officials say wolf numbers are still too high.
• Washington estimates up to 100 wolves in the state, double the estimate in 2012.
• The cost of managing wolves in Washington, where they are still protected, is likely to increase by more than 200 percent from the past two years to about $2.3 million in 2013-14, wildlife managers say.
• Wolf hunting and trapping become issues of national attention as a wolf hunter shoots and kills a malamute romping with its owner while cross country skiing near Lolo Pass; a Sandpoint woman’s dog is caught in a snare set along a closed forest road, and a central Idaho predator hunting derby becomes the first modern contest to target wolves in the lower 48.
• Hunting authorized outside of Yellowstone Park results in the killing of wolves popular with tourists as well as radio-collared wolves vital to research.
• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to drop endangered species protections for the gray wolf in most of the country.
• Pro-wolf groups submit a million comments in December to the FWS favoring continued federal protection.
• Washington legislation makes it legal to kill wolves threatening pets and livestock, provides state wildlife managers more resources to prevent wolf-livestock conflict and expands criteria to compensate livestock owners for wolf-related losses.
• Idaho hires a hunter to eliminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to take the pressure off collapsing elk herds.
• Michigan becomes sixth state with a wolf hunting season.