Despite extinction crisis, hunters push to kill wolves and sandhill cranes

 by Patricia Randolph

As humanity hurtles toward catastrophe, our legislators turn a blind eye to reality and continue to pander to forces of destruction and death. Instead of caring for the fragile life of this earth, legislators like state Sen. Tom Tiffany and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson continue to ignore the science of the Endangered Species Act, pushing to kill our endangered wolves.

And the hunters want to kill cranes. They apparently are bored with killing other wildlife. Maybe they want a wolf with a crane in his mouth to hang on their walls.

It is not that difficult to connect the dots between the status quo and certain trajectory toward an unlivable and desolate home planet. The skies are emptying, as are woods and oceans — not through any natural force, but only by the violence of man. Chris Hedges writes in his recent “Reign of Idiots”: “Europeans and Americans have spent five centuries conquering, plundering, exploiting and polluting the earth in the name of human progress. … They believed that this orgy of blood and gold would never end, and they still believe it.”

Tiffany held yet another wolf hate conference, in early April, that was completely skewed to myth, lies, and fearmongering. He should be reminded that Richard Thiel, retired DNR wolf biologist, said on Wisconsin Public Radio, “I have worked with wolves in Wisconsin for 30 years. I have pushed them off of deer carcasses and had them walk right up to me. I never felt the need to carry a firearm and I never did.” Tiffany has been informed that only 2/10ths of 1 percent of livestock deaths can be attributed to wolves, whereas 90 percent of pre-slaughterhouse death is due to horrific farm conditions.

Yet Tiffany, Baldwin, Johnson and many other Republicans are bloodthirsty in pursuit of wolf-hater votes.

The Center for Biological Diversity describes the acceleration of extinction: “Because the rate of change in our biosphere is increasing, and because every species’ extinction potentially leads to the extinction of others bound to that species in a complex ecological web, numbers of extinctions are likely to snowball in the coming decades as ecosystems unravel.”

Yesterday, May 6, the DNR held a Wisconsin hunter education convention “on the future of hunter education with statewide experts in the field of hunter recruitment, retention, and reintroducing people of all ages to the outdoors and hunting.” For years, the DNR has offered $5 licenses to entice new hunters and trappers, especially targeting women and children, to bolster its power base of hunters and trappers.

The DNR has recruited and trained another 10,000 trappers over the past five years, deregulated lead shot and weapons and massively extended and liberalized seasons, shooting ranges, and access to public lands. It is paying for private land access. It is permitting the use of dogs to chase our wildlife without mercy or licenses, anytime, anywhere, with little or no oversight. It is paying $2,500, from the Endangered Species Fund, for each dog killed by wolves or bears defending themselves and their young.

In 2015-16 the DNR’s self-reported survey documented 284,395 wild animals crushed in traps throughout the state. Prices were down in that time period, with prices ranging from 71 cents for possums to $75 for bobcat skins. The total monetary value comes out to $1,258,651 or $4.42 per wild animal killed. Trappers are the only citizens who can destroy unlimited wild animals for profit, indiscriminately, and self-report.

Nonhunters have zero say.

If the 4.4 million voting-eligible citizens each put in 29 cents, we could buy back our 284,395 innocent wildlife and save them from such suffering and needless death. We are not given the option. Only death has a price tag and license.

The Center for Biological Diversity warns, “(C)onserving local populations is the only way to ensure genetic diversity critical for a species’ long-term survival.” That means wolves, bears, bobcats, beavers, coyotes, and all wild life.

As Chris Hedges writes in “Reign of Idiots”: “There is a familiar checklist for extinction. We are ticking off every item on it.”

Bow Valley wolf pack down to 2 after male killed by hunters in B.C.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/bow-valley-wolf-pack-male-killed-1.4071142

Wildlife specialist says he expects pack’s population near Banff will stabilize despite low numbers

CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2017 10:40 AM MT Last Updated: Apr 14, 2017 10:40 AM MT

The Bow Valley wolf pack near the Banff townsite is down to two members after a two-year-old male was shot and killed by hunters in B.C. after leaving the park.

The Bow Valley wolf pack near the Banff townsite is down to two members after a two-year-old male was shot and killed by hunters in B.C. after leaving the park. (Parks Canada)

A wildlife specialist in Banff National Park has hopes the Bow Valley wolf pack will recover after one of its three members was shot and killed by a hunter in B.C. last month.

The two-year-old wolf, known as 1502, was equipped with a tracking collar when it left the park and headed west.

“It’s typical for a wolf around that age to go on a dispersal like that as they find a new territory for themselves and join another pack or form another pack on their own,” said Steve Michel, a Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialist.

Wolf 1502 travelled more than 500 linear kilometres until he reached the West Kootenay area where he was killed near Trout Lake, B.C., at the end of March.

There are now two wolves remaining in the Bow Valley pack — an alpha male and a two-year-old female, which would be the sibling to wolf 1502.

Last year, Parks Canada staff estimated the pack had at least nine wolves in the spring. A few months later, staff at the park were forced to put down an alpha female after it exhibited concerning behaviour.

Shortly after, four wolf pups were killed by trains in two separate incidents. Later in the summer, park staff shot a second wolf that had been acting boldly around people at campgrounds.

Wolf populations fluctuate

Michel said despite last year’s devastation of the pack, population numbers are constantly fluctuating and he expects the pack’s population will stabilize in some way in the future.

“Wolf populations are very dynamic,” he said. “The size of the pack is constantly changing, just as we talk about this wolf dispersing, there’s other wolves from other packs in other areas that are dispersing that might come and join in to the Bow Valley pack as well.”

Overall, Michel said, the wolf population in Banff National Park is healthy, but being so close to a busy developed area like the Banff townsite, the Bow Valley wolf pack is constantly under pressure.

“We’ve seen before, in this portion of the park and the Bow Valley, we’ve seen packs completely die out and then a short time later, new packs form and take over similar territorial boundaries. We’ve seen packs merge together, packs overtake other ones.”

“Wolf populations are very dynamic and they’re always in a state of flux.”

Trump revokes Alaska refuge rule, allows wolves to be killed

http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170404/trump-revokes-alaska-refuge-rule-allows-wolves-to-be-killed

Predators can kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

By DAN JOLING

Associated Press

Published on April 4, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The state of Alaska’s toolkit for increasing moose and caribou numbers includes killing wolf pups in dens, shooting wolf packs from helicopters and adopting liberal hunting regulations that allow sportsmen to shoot grizzlies over bait.

But when state officials wanted to extend “predator control” to federal wildlife refuges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said no. And after years of saying no, the agency late last year adopted a rule to make the denial permanent.

Alaska’s elected officials called that an outrage and an infringement on state rights. The dispute reached the White House.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed a resolution approved by the U.S. House and Senate to revoke a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule banning most predator control on Alaska refuges. Alaska’s lone U.S. representative, Republican Don Young, says Alaska was promised it could manage game animals. Refuge overseers have ignored the law, he said.

“Some of you will say, ‘Oh, we have to protect the wolf puppies,’” Young told colleagues on the floor of the House. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the law.”

Congress explicitly gave Alaska authority to manage wildlife in the Alaska Statehood Act and two more laws, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said after voting to revoke the rule.

Alaska’s 16 national wildlife refuges cover about 120,000 square miles, an area slightly smaller than the state of New Mexico. Residents of rural villages living a subsistence lifestyle rely on refuges as hunting grounds. So do urban sportsmen.

Critics contend Alaska officials use unsportsmanlike techniques that would have horrified Teddy Roosevelt, creator of the first federal refuge, to boost moose and caribou numbers. Sportsmanship, however, is not a consideration, according to state authorities, when it comes to surgically removing certain numbers of predators to benefit prey populations.

Predators can kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Alaska’s mandate for killing predators comes from a law passed by the state Legislature recognizing that certain moose, caribou, and deer populations are especially important human food sources. When those populations drop too low, the Alaska Board of Game, which regulates hunting and trapping, can authorize “intensive management.”

The focus once was almost totally wolves. Since 1993, the state has killed hundreds along with lesser numbers of black and grizzly bears that prey on caribou or moose calves.

Federal wildlife refuges operate under a different mandate. For example, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, where the state in 2010 sought to kill wolves from helicopters to protect caribou on Unimak Island, was created by Congress with the mission of conserving animal populations and habitats “in their natural biodiversity.”

Geoff Haskett, former Alaska regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the agency adopted the rule for Alaska refuges after repeatedly fending off state attempts to extend predator control in direct conflict with refuge purposes. Some attempts up in court. For two years, he said, the state authorized an overharvest by hunters of grizzly bears on the Kenai Peninsula. The agency closed the Kenai Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge in response.

“Brown bear biologists from both the state side and the federal side had real concerns about the amount of unlimited harvest and the amount of females that would be taken by what was proposed by the state,” Haskett said.

Haskett left the agency and is now acting director of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Even though President Trump signed the congressional resolution, Haskett believes it will not give the state of Alaska carte blanche to begin predator control on federal refuges.

“It doesn’t change the laws and authorities and existing regulations that the service already has,” Haskett said. “It’s really back to square one.”

Ken Marsh, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, agreed. Without a blanket rule, federal refuge managers likely will consider predator control requests on a case-by-case basis, he said, under provisions of federal environmental law.

Chased by wolf pack while out on dogsled, Labrador man returns to hunt


From prey to predator, Guido Rich hunts down wolves that chased him

By Garrett Barry, CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted: Mar 03, 2017

Guido Rich was chased into town by a pack of wolves while he was out on dogsled this week. He returned with a gun to hunt the animals down. (Submitted by Sherri Wolfrey)

A Labrador man turned from prey to predator this week, when he tracked down and killed a group of wolves that chased him on his dogsled.

Guido Rich hunted the four animals — two on Wednesday night, and two more on Thursday morning — after they chased him back into Rigolet.

‘I don’t think my dogs would have had a chance against four or five wolves.’ – Guido Rich

Rich says he was about 10 kilometres away from town with his dogsled Wednesday night, when he realized what he originally thought was nearby snowmobiles was actually a pack of wolves — and they were headed in his direction.

“I was there bawling at my dogs and trying to get them running fast to get back to town,” he told CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning.

He outran the wolfpack into Rigolet, and went and picked up his friend and their gun. Rich and his friend returned to the trail, and found the pack close to the community.

Wolves hunted

The first two wolves were killed on Wednesday night, after Rich escaped from the pack. (Submitted by Sherri Wolfrey)

That’s when Rich started firing, killing two of the animals and pushing the others into the woods.

The next morning, Rich went out to the trail again to look for the surviving animals, who came too close to his home for comfort.

“I said it’s just as well try to get them instead of running into an encounter with them again,” he explained. “Either drive them away or get them, I figured.”

On Thursday morning, Rich found two more of the animals and killed them.

Lessons learned

The experience gave him a bit of a fright, Rich said. Being alone with his dog sled, and without a gun, he said he worried for what was going to happen to his dogs.

“I don’t think my dogs would have had a chance against four or five wolves,” he said. “I was more afraid for the dogs than myself.”

Rich said he never had a wolf encounter like this before, but now promises he won’t leave town without his gun again.

“I guess it was pretty close to fighting for my life,” he said. “I should have had my gun then, but I wasn’t thinking about wolves.”

With files from Labrador Morning
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/guido-rich-wolfpack-hunting-dogsled-rigolet-1.4007792

Time to end the era of aerial gunning of wolves

http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/02/time-end-era-aerial-gunning-wolves.html

Time to end the era of aerial gunning of wolves

by Wayne Pacelle

February 9, 2017 

One of the most despicable acts against animals in contemporary times is the aerial gunning of wildlife – chasing down these animals in aircraft and then strafing them with bullets, mainly as a way to wipe out local populations and artificially boost populations of moose and caribou for hunters to shoot at a later time. It’s not only a scrambling of intact ecological systems, but it is barbaric, and it’s been sanctioned by some Alaska politicians and their appointees at the Board of Game in Alaska for years, even though voters in the state time and time again have tried to ban it by ballot initiative.

In 2015 and 2016, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said “not on our lands,” and adopted rules to forbid aerial scouting, landing, and then shooting of wolves and grizzly bears; killing of hibernating black bear mothers with cubs; and denning of predators on national preserves and national wildlife refuges. It was a long overdue pair of policies, and broadly supported by so many Alaskans and by people throughout the nation.

Now these rules are facing a double-barreled attack – in the federal courts and in Congress.

The HSUS joined several national and local conservation groups this week to challenge an attempt by trophy hunting interests to reopen some of the cruelest hunting practices on federal lands in Alaska. Lawsuits filed last month by the state of Alaska and Safari Club International seek to nix the regulations. And next week, in the U.S. House of Representatives, Alaska’s sole Congressman, Don Young, will offer a resolution to strike the rule, under a law known as the Congressional Review Act. The CRA allows Congress, by simple majorities in the House and Senate and with the signature of the president, to strike any recent rule of the prior administration in the first few months of a new Congress.

These are our federal lands, and the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are the primary managers. Those attacking these rules are attacking the professional wildlife managers who developed these policies on the ground in Alaska. At field hearings conducted in the run-up to the final rulemaking actions, significant numbers of Alaskans testified in favor of adopting the rules. It’s false framing for Rep. Young and anyone else to say Alaskans oppose these rules and support these unsporting and barbaric practices. In fact, voters have put the issues of aerial gunning of wolves on the ballot three times, and passed two of the measures (still lawmakers, violating the wishes of their own constituents, overturned those laws).

Congress created national wildlife refuges and national preserves so people can enjoy these magical places, but also to allow wildlife to thrive. We now know too much about wolves and grizzly bears to treat them like a curse and to try to decimate them. They play an essential role in balancing ecosystems, and have a cascade effect to benefit species up and down the food chain and even to help forest and stream health. It also is a proven truth that wolves and grizzly bears are the biggest draws for tourists who trek to Alaska and spend over $2 billion annually to see these creatures in their native habitats. Wildlife-based tourism creates thousands of jobs and commerce for Alaska – particularly for rural gateway communities. The FWS has reported that, in Alaska, wildlife watchers number 640,000 compared to 125,000 hunters and spend five times more ($2 billion) than hunters ($425 million) for wildlife recreational opportunities.

The state officials who brought these lawsuits, and the federal lawmakers from Alaska who are pushing their resolutions to repeal these new federal rules, are working against the economic interests of their state in advocating for more killing and maiming of wolves and grizzly bears. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service were right to draw a line and say these activities cannot occur on federal lands set aside for wildlife. Wolves and bears are the best ambassadors for these land holdings, and no one has to pay them a dime or provide an ounce of food or a drop of water. They just need to be left alone.

But those rules are in jeopardy unless you act. Contact your federal lawmakers and urge opposition to the Young CRA joint resolution (H.J. Res. 69) and a similar effort in the Senate, advanced by Alaska Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (S.J. Res. 18).

It’s time to raise your voice if we want to ground the aerial gunships revving up to kill wildlife on some of America’s most extraordinary wild lands and ecosystems.

Death Threats Prompt Move To Withhold Personal Information From Wolf Management Documents

http://kuow.org/post/death-threats-prompt-move-withhold-personal-information-wolf-management-documents

FEB 2, 2017

A bill in a committee of the Washington House of Representatives would exempt some personal information relating to the state’s wolf management efforts from public disclosure.

Supporters say it will keep those who work directly with wolves safe. Opponents are concerned about the loss of transparency.

Whether you like wolves or not, the folks who come in contact with them aren’t necessarily threatened by the top carnivore, but recently, they have stopped feeling safe.

On one end of that are the people who work for the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Shortly after they started shooting wolves from the Profanity Peak pack in Northeastern Washington last summer, Donny Martorello said he decided to put his family up in a hotel.

“I’m a biologist, I’m a manager, a wolf manager,” Martorello said. “I don’t carry a gun, I’m not law enforcement, and I did sign up for the job but my family did not.”

Martorello is in charge of Washington’s wolf policy. During a hearing, he told members of the Committee on State Government, Elections and Information Technology that he and colleagues received death threats, harassing phone calls and messages.

And he said it doesn’t just happen to him and his colleagues. He said some ranchers–or “livestock producers” have reported having their photos taken and their homes stalked.

“There are producers out there that I have spoken with personally that believe that they are having interactions where wolves are attacking their livestock and they are fearful of coming to the department for reasons that we just talked about,” Martorello said.

By the 1930s there were no wolves left in Washington state. People got used to that. In 2005, the state started receiving reliable reports of their return. Under a new policy implemented last year, managers can lethally remove wolves after four confirmed reports of wolf-killed livestock or pets.

That’s exactly what happened last summer.

A news story about the efforts to lethally remove the wolves prompted state Rep. Joel Kretz, a Republican from Okanogan County, to co-sponsor House Bill 1465, which would amend state law to exempt personal information for anyone connected to a report of a wolf or a wolf-kill from public disclosure.

“The big problem that we’re trying to get out here is that the people, whose animals were attacked were named,” Kretz said. “They were on the front page of the Seattle Times with not only their address but their personal phone number, instantly getting hit with death threats nonstop.”

The newspaper did name a livestock producer and describe the general location of his ranch. News industry representatives said at the hearing that the story was linked to supporting documents at the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. They said that’s where ranchers’ personal information could be found. They also said the link was later removed.

Roland Thompson is the executive director for the Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington. He agrees that anyone who files a report about a problem wolf should not be intimidated.

“It’s the rest of this information that we’re paying good money to have done – the identities of the people of the agency that are working on this, they are in essence law enforcement, they are armed and they are moving about the landscape and they are acting on policies that are set by the legislature and implemented by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and we need to know who those people are and what their actions are that they are taking,” Thompson said.

Democratic state Rep. Sherry Appleton of the Kitsap Peninsula argued the bill proposal might go about protecting sensitive information in the wrong way.

“if it’s the threat and the harassment that we are talking about with this bill, then I think we should do legislation to prohibit fish and wildlife from releasing the names and numbers and addresses,” Appleton said.

In other words, she said legislation should keep private phone numbers and addresses private, but it should not limit what we can know about what public employees do on public land.

The committee is now scheduled to decide whether to advance the bill to the House for consideration.

Copyright 2017 NWNews

First ‘official’ wolf kill confirmed on Colville Reservation

First wolf kill on Colville Reservation

First wolf kill on Colville Reservation

November 21, 2016 9:21 am | Updated: 1:15 pm, Mon Nov 21, 2016.

NESPELEM—After three hunting seasons without harvesting a wolf, a Colville Tribal member has taken the first.

Duane Hall, 37 of Omak, brought a gray wolf into the Colville Tribal Fish & Wildlife office for sealing on Friday, CTFW confirmed Monday.

Just three of the estimated 18 to 20 wolves—spread out among at least three packs—are allowed to be taken, per CTFW’s predator hunting regulations.

“I didn’t really have a reaction,” CTFW director Randall Friedlander said.

Hunting group Rez Bucks, Bulls & Predators, operated by tribal member Sean Gorr, published the news on Nov. 17 at 12:45 p.m.

A share to Tribal Tribune’s Facebook was met with mixed reviews.

“Terrible,” tribal member Lorin Hutton said.

“Nice kill,” tribal member Ted Piccolo added.

“Wildlife management is a must,” Gorr stated in the conversation. “Predator control is a must. Regulated hunting seasons is a must. All that needs to happen to sustain enough big game to feed our families for generations.”

Wolf hunting season started Aug. 1 and ends Feb. 28. Three known packs exist on the Colville Reservation: The Strawberry, the Whitestone and the Nc’icn. A collared wolf was accidentally slain on the Colville Reservation during a recapturing effort by CTFW in January 2015.

Friedlander said the amount of wolves harvested—by way of rifle or trap hunting—are determined by the number of wolves.

“We try to manage for the total population,” he said, “and that’s why we allow three per year. That’s based on a percentage of the overall population (of wolves).”

He reiterated the right to hunt is an ancestral right.

“We try to create opportunities for tribal members to practice their traditional, cultural way of life,” Friedlander said. “That includes the harvesting of some predators for some tribal members. Not all tribal members harvest predators, but some do.”

In May, CTFW reduced the number of wolves that could be taken from 12 to three each season, but allowed traps to be used for the first time.

Last month, a Washington wolf from the Huckleberry Pack, which was thought to range from the Spokane Reservation north, was killed after a 700-mile trek from Washington to Idaho, Canada and then central Montana.

The Tribune has reached out to Hall for an interview.

http://www.tribaltribune.com/news/article_fc9452fc-b00e-11e6-9e94-3f2bece5e94b.html

MONTANA WOLF HUNT NUMBERS SHOW SLIGHT INCREASE

 Nov 29, 2016

MISSOULA –

Although big game hunting season has ended in Montana, the wolf hunting season continues.

Through the end of the general deer and elk season on Nov. 27, hunters in Northwest Montana FWP Region One have taken 34 wolves. The statewide total sits at 106 wolves taken, up slightly from last year at the end of the general deer and elk season.

The wolf hunting season continues until March 15. Hunters can still purchase a wolf hunting license, but there is a 24-hour waiting period before it is valid.  Wolf trapping begins on December 15. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials point out the wolf trappers must purchase a furbearer trapping license and have completed the wolf trapping certification course to trap wolves. 

The bag limit is five wolves per hunter/trapper in any combination of hunting or trapping. FWP reports that 210 wolves were taken in 2015.

Click here for more information about the wolf hunt in Montana.

 
(MTN News file photo)

MICHIGAN WOLVES STAY PROTECTED

http://www.gohunt.com/read/news/michigan-wolves-stay-protected

 

Wolf in snow
Photo credits: Shutterstock

Michigan’s wolf hunting law was ruled unconstitutional by the Michigan Court of Appeals last week. This ruling means that the 2014 law that previously permitted wolf hunting within the state (should the animals ever be officially delisted from Michigan’s Endangered Species List) is no longer valid.

Gray wolves have managed to maintain a sustainable number within the state despite the first and only wolf hunt held in late 2013 where 23 wolves were killed; there are approximately 3,700 wolves in the Western Great Lakes population and 630 of them reside in Michigan, according to MLive.com. Last week’s decision was met with great approval by the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) that had argued that the hunting law was misleading and the language stressed to those asked to sign in support promoted free licenses for veterans and protection against invasive species. KMWP say that signers did not know that wolf hunting was part of the package.

Because of the way the law was promoted, the judges on the panel agreed with KMWP, writing that “we cannot presume that the Legislature would have passed PA 281 without the provision allowing free hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses for active members of the military.” Misleading language in a law is good cause for termination of the entire law and the rationale behind labeling the act as unconstitutional.

“We are delighted the court has rejected the legislature’s outrageous attempt to subvert the will of the people of Michigan, and declared unconstitutional the legislature’s attempt to force a wolf hunt,” KMWP director Jill Fritz told MLive.com. “This ruling restores the people’s decision, in two statewide votes, overwhelmingly rejecting the trophy hunting and commercial trapping of the state’s small population of wolves.”

KMWP supports the downsizing of wolves, which would allow for lethal removal of problem animals without an open hunting season. Current protections only allow for killing a wolf if it attacks a human.

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.