Hunting stops growth in Idaho’s wolf population

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Published on November 28, 2016 11:49AM

A gray wolf. Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.

COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
A gray wolf. Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.


BOISE — As hunting is resulting in a slow but steady decline of Idaho’s wolf population, a Boise State University poll taken earlier this year showed strong statewide support for the hunting of wolves.

Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.

It peaked at 856 in 2009, the first year Idaho allowed hunters to take wolves, before a lawsuit that resulted in the animals being put back on the endangered species list halted that hunting season.

Since wolves were permanently delisted and hunting resumed in 2011, the population has slowly declined and was 786 at the end of 2015.

“The overall wolf population has stabilized since state management [and hunting] began in 2011,” said Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler. “That’s when that 30-40 percent population increase we were seeing annually stopped.”

A poll taken in January shows support for the hunts.

“Our … survey showed it’s not popular to be a wolf in Idaho,” said Corey Cook, dean of BSU’s School of Public Service, which conducted the poll. “People didn’t express a lot of support for wolves.”

The phone survey of 1,000 Idahoans was conducted in all regions of the state and the results — strong support for wolf hunting — were the same.

The poll results showed that 72 percent of people surveyed supported wolf hunting while 22 percent opposed it.

Fifty-one percent of respondents strongly supported wolf hunting compared with 13 percent who strongly opposed it.

Even in Boise, Idaho’s main urban area, 64 percent of respondents favored allowing hunters to take wolves while 28 percent opposed that.

The poll results show that Idahoans understand hunting is an important wolf management tool, said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation spokesman John Thompson.

“It certainly is a good thing to hear,” he said. “You certainly wouldn’t expect to find that (support) in some of the other states that wolves are moving into.”

After wolves were re-introduced into Idaho in 1994 and 1995, the animal’s population grew rapidly, expanding at a rate of 30-40 percent annually.

Hunting has stopped that growth.

“We’re getting over the honeymoon period (and) people see hunting as a good tool in the management toolbox,” Thompson said.

While wolf hunting has been successful in controlling the animal’s population in Idaho, IDFG numbers show that wolves are getting smarter when it comes to avoiding hunters.

During the 2010-2011 hunting season, Idaho’s first full year of wolf hunting, 181 wolves were killed by hunters. That number rose to 376 the next year but has declined each year since then, to 319 and then 303 and 249 last year.

So far this season, 154 wolves have been killed by hunters in Idaho.

When it came to state efforts to reduce the wolf population, support was solid but a little less favorable than for hunting.

When told that Idaho lawmakers approved spending $400,000 annually to reduce the state’s wolf population, 56 percent of people surveyed supported state efforts while 38 percent opposed them.

8 thoughts on “Hunting stops growth in Idaho’s wolf population

  1. Disgusting. What else is needed in the ‘toolbox’ to eradicate wolves than this? I should think this would be enough. That 2011 delisting was disastrous, especially so since it was perpetrated by Democrats, without any knowledge of science, although we make a great pretense at it (one of our worst traits). I can see us going back to 1800 extirpations, I really can. What craziness – we claim to be forward-thinking but we really are not. Thank God for Stephen Hawking giving all of Earth’s inhabitants hope for the future. Hopefully it can be stopped cold for the rest of the country – and maybe even reversed someday.

    • Sorry, hopefully that should be ‘hopefully the 2011 delisting can be stopped cold for the rest of the country – and maybe even reversed someday’. Stephen Hawking’s prediction will carry on as usual. I was just reading an article from Outdoors about our current Secretary of the Interior about climate change being our biggest threat – but that’s as far as it gets. I’d have asked her interviewer if he plans on giving up beef and fossil fuels cold turkey and see him or her stumble for an answer. I guess climate change is supposed to take care of itself somehow.

      That and turning recreation into a multi-billion dollar industry to encourage as many people as possible (whether they want to or not!) to trammel the untrammeled as much as possible! *facepalm*

      Sally Jewell on the Future of the Department of the Interior

      • The recreation thing drives me crazy. Cannot just have wilderness for its own and the animals’ sake. No. We have to have resorts, souvenir shops, trails, handicapped accessible areas, bigger parking lots for huge campers. Wring everything out of the wilderness for our pleasure and our profits. The hell with the real inhabitants, the trees, and the land.

      • It drives me nuts too – turning it into a money-making venture is nearly as bad as exploiting the land for other reasons.

        Trying to say that not enough women and minorities visit because of racism and sexism is absurd. Some people just are not into that sort of thing, and there’s no other reason than that. Fees cannot be the reason keeping people out because many places are free or have ridiculously low fees.

        Having some ridiculous ideal not based in reality is what causes selfie-taking with bison, putting a kid to ride on a bison like a petting zoo, trying to rescue bison, and going out jogging from your doorstep without worrying about wildlife and thereby causing a grizzly to be killed. Some humans, no matter their background, just are not suited to the outdoors or it just isn’t their cuppa tea. We can’t make them conform to political correctness. We are not all the same! For some children it is a good idea to help them get to these places that they may not be able to, but there are many wild places closer to home as well to stimulate interest in the natural world. But if it isn’t there, you cannot force it.

        I can only think of two Secretaries of the Interior worth a damn – Udall and Babbitt.

  2. I have a file for ID called Bat Sh– Crazy. Since wolves were politically sneakily delisted in that state and Montana on a rider to a Interior Appropriation Bill (Senator Tester of MT and Rep. Simpson of ID April 2011), ID has killed over 2000 wolves by hunting, trapping, and culling, a lot on the argument of artificially increasing elk herd numbers.

    Wildlife Services, USDA kills animals by the millions, including thousands of wolves. It is a rogue agency of a war on wildlife. Wolves are not decimating elk anywhere. That is a hunter myth. The wolf reintroduced was the gray wolf and is native to the northwest and midwest. Wolves are part of a healthy wilderness ecology good for the whole of it. Farming elk by killing predators is not sound science or ecology. It probably violates the public trust, hunter ethics, the the Wilderness Act. National forests supervisor’s should not allow it. Wolves were reintroduced in ID and Yellowstone but had already started reintroducing themselves via Glacier. A wilderness area or national forest or public land should not be an area where hunters should be allowed to manipulate wilderness ecology for game herds.

    Elk numbers wax and wane mostly due to forage, weather, natural migration, over hunting. Hunters scapegoat wolves and perpetuate their mythology. If an area, such as Lolo is failing to support elk year after year then give it up and let nature decide on the population levels. Even though wolves of course prey on elk, they’re part of the wildlife ecological system and should have first choice. Hunting (aka recreational killing) should have second choice or last on the food chain. It is actually the hunters and trappers who are not good for wilderness ecology. Wolves generally do not need to be “managed” at all, and the population should not be driven down for “sportsmen”. Wolves will manage themselves relative to wolf pack elbow room and prey.

    Hunters and trappers do need management. Sport killing is additive, often damaging to the health of the targeted animals and the ecology as a whole. Man is no longer a subsistence hunter or trapper, now just a bloodsport killer and fur harvester and the wilderness ecology cannot sustain this, especially since since hunters are so prone to upsetting the balance of natural ecology and distorting it. Wildlife agencies should be fired and/or revamped to help the interest of wildlife, balanced wildlife ecology, wildlife habitat, wildlife corridors, the general public’s values and wishes, not farming targets for hunters and selling licences. Wildlife Services of USDA should be congressional reviewed, revamped or fired and not in liaisons with hunters and fishermen and state wildlife agencies.

    Wolf “management” should not be at the state level in ID, MT, WY and the midwest. These are wolf jihad states with ID the worst. Wolves should stay in protected status indefinitely.

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