Hunters are nearing the quota in three Idaho wolf hunting zones-

Sixty-nine wolves have been shot now, 151 are left in the quota, but their are  sub-quotas — quotas for each wolf zone.

Palouse-Hells Canyon, McCall-Weiser, and Upper Snake have only 3 wolf tags left to fill.  Two of the three had only 5 tags to start with. McCall-Weiser had 15 tags and 12 have been filled.  The most wolves have been killed in the Sawtooth Zone, 17; but the quota is 55.

No wolves have been shot in Southern Idaho where the quota is 5.  In fact, there might not any wolves there.   The only real surprise to me is the Lolo Zone where Idaho Fish and Game and hunters have been crying for years now that there are huge number of wolves, and they say have had a big impact on elk.  However, only 3 wolves have been taken out of a quota of 27.  I never believed there were all that many wolves in the area, and have stated my opinion time after time.

An interesting question will be will the Idaho Fish and Game Commission increase quotas in some areas if as the hunt goes on, it becomes clear that certain hunting zone quotas will not be filled.  Alternatively they might call on that band of killers, Wildlife Services, to go in and make sure the quota is filled. Both possibilities will create a lot of controversy.

Story. Idaho F&G prepares to shutter wolf hunt in 3 zones. The Associated Press.

Map and table giving Idaho wolf hunt info to date.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

36 Responses to Idaho Fish and Game prepares to close wolf hunt in 3 zones

  1. avatar JB says:

    Some possibilities to explain results in the Lolo:

    (a) Fewer hunters hunting this region due to all of the negative publicity (i.e. decimated elk populations). Fewer hunters would lead to less opportunities to shoot wolves.

    (b) Wolf populations in the area have already been reduced via intraspecific strife, increased dispersal, etc. (i.e. “natural” population regulation).

    (c) There weren’t as many wolves in the Lolo as IDFG thought.

    I’d be interested to hear Mark Gambling’s comments, if he is still paying attention?

  2. avatar adam gall says:

    Morning Ralph. I am of the opinion there is a healthy population of wolves in the Lolo zone that could probably use some thinning. Whether the number they set as the quota (27?) is correct is up for interpretation. An issue that comes with trying to hunt those units is the amount of brush and vegetation in the understory. Visibility is tough, making hunting tough plus unit 12 (the Lochsa) doesn’t really have towns with a large population base to go “wolf hunting”. Thanks as always and have a good day.

  3. avatar Caleb says:

    Ralph,

    Tell me more about this?

    “If you consider mange to not be natural (it was introduced by humans deliberately).”

    Just in case you miss it in that extremely long blog.

  4. avatar timz says:

    From an article in the Idaho Misstakesman about the closures.

    “EAGLE – Randy Strickland was arraigned in Valley County on misdemeanor charges of taking a game animal illegally and shooting from a public highway, according to Idaho Fish and Game.
    The agency says the wolf was shot at about 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in an area closed to wolf hunting at the time.
    The agency says Strickland has pleaded not guilty.”

    I wonder what this “sportsmans” defense will be.

  5. avatar nabeki says:

    I hate looking at those numbers every day. It’s just so depressing.

    Ralph says:
    “Alternatively they might call on that band of killers, Wildlife Services, to go in and make sure the quota is filled.”

    Yes, Wildlife Services, they’re a lovely group, I did a piece on them on my blog yesterday. It’s not pretty.
    http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/the-exterminators/

  6. avatar JEFF E says:

    “The only real surprise to me is the Lolo Zone where Idaho Fish and Game and hunters have been crying for years now that there are huge number of wolves, and they say have had a big impact on elk. However, only 3 wolves have been taken out of a quota of 27. I never believed there were all that many wolves in the area, and have stated my opinion time after time.”

    I find this also interesting. Fish and game and the anti’s would have you believe there is a wolf or two behind every bush.

  7. avatar gline says:

    So is this considered an early close??? What about all the hub bub that this hunt would take awhile to reach quotas because wolves are so elusive and the off hand hunter would shoot one if he comes upon one it it was convenient?

  8. avatar Smitty says:

    I see that a couple more wolves have been killed in the South Mountains. Where does a person find out if any of them were the Phantoms or specifically where they were killed?

  9. avatar BrianTT says:

    JEFF E,

    The Lolo numbers don’t surprise me. If you have ever been in that country it is so thick and dense with vegitation that it is hard to find the deer let alone a wolf. Your only hope would be to catch one on a logging road or clearcut.

  10. avatar Gerry Miner says:

    Ralph and Nabeki–
    “Alternatively they might call on that band of killers, Wildlife Services, to go in and make sure the quota is filled. ”

    Really? Do you have knowledge of this? Is it in the approved Idaho wolf hunting plan? This seems a little over the top and like it would probably have to be approved by somebody before it happened. Just wondering if you are speculating or have some knowledge about this.

  11. avatar JB says:

    There is a new study out from the folks at U. of Minnesota that suggests older wolves are not nearly as adept at hunting as younger wolves. The researchers found that wolves were in their hunting prime at ages 2 to 3 years. After that, they become less successful at hunting. This leads to a rather interesting implication for the hunting of wolves:

    “But hunting of wolves won’t necessarily help the elk, and not just because only a few wolves have been taken so far, MacNulty says.

    ‘It’s been shown in other hunted populations of wolves that hunting skews the population toward younger age classes,’ he explains. And, as his research shows, that could spell more deaths, not fewer, for the elk.

    The reason hunting pushes a population’s age structure downward is because being hunted is like playing Russian roulette. If, starting early in life, every member of a society had to play Russian roulette regularly, not too many would live to a ripe old age, he says.”

    Link: http://www1.umn.edu/news/features/2009/UR_CONTENT_143264.html

  12. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Gerry Miner,

    Watch the following video. At 12:10 Suzanne Stone explains what was said at the IDFG Commissioner’s meeting where the hunting season was announced. Notice the IDFG gentleman sitting next to her. He doesn’t disagree and the annual Wildlife Services wolf report says as much.

    [youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edbXFwsS6Bo]

  13. Wow,

    I hadn’t watched the extra segment. That goofball from northern Idaho is quite a case, but the real problem is Idaho saying they will reduce the wolf population by other other “tools,” if the quotas are not met (or even if they area).

    If that’s their game, don’t expect any compromise here. The hunt is largely OK so far, but conservationists absolutely must win this case so the wolves are not left to the tender mercies of the state legislature and their “additional methods.”

  14. avatar JB says:

    Ken:

    Thanks for posting that link. I’d heard this reported, but it amazes me how candid IDFG is about it.

  15. avatar Jay says:

    Did I mention Mr. Popp is a freaking dork?

  16. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I find this also interesting. Fish and game and the anti’s would have you believe there is a wolf or two behind every bush.

    Maybe that will open people’s eyes…

  17. avatar J in cda says:

    The video Ken Cole posted above is interesting. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told that Idaho’s “native” wolf was the Timber Wolf. Can anyone post an unbiased link on this? Everything that I have found states they are the same species.

  18. avatar JB says:

    We’re now up to 73. Still not a single wolf killed in the Southern Idaho zone. [Could it be that there aren’t any wolves in this region?] I’m beginning to think IDF&G included this region in the hunt just so it didn’t miss out on all of the license sales that wolf hate generates; and of course, to prevent any conflicts with livestock.

  19. avatar JEFF E says:

    re other tools,
    I asked Mark Gamblin pointedly on three different occasions what will be Idaho’s preferred method of reducing the population to the stated ~500. Have not received any reply.
    Some things to keep in mind:
    The state has said that the “managed” population would be maintained at 2005 (?) levels of ~500 – ~700.
    So with the hunting quotas at ~250 (which will not be met by hunters IMO), there is your hi/low range in the “managed” population, with enough cushion below 500 if the hunt is “gittner done”, and to give the state latitude to deal with those pesky, uneducated wolves, in need of killin do to the relativly few livestock depredations.

    The State has given itself statutory authority to use aerial gunning to control wolves

    The state is attempting to find loopholes in the wilderness act to land State helicopters in Federal Wilderness areas. Landing being a necessary component of aerial gunning.

    500 or so wolves can probably be contained within the designated Wilderness areas given enough collars and whatever bleeds thru will be up for grabs via a hunting season and then “management”

  20. avatar JEFF E says:

    I also asked Mark Gamblin what was the specific sound management considerations that were used to come up with the 5 kill limit in Southern Idaho. Not the euphemisms or platitudes but the specific criteria used.
    No answer.

  21. avatar JEFF E says:

    I believe that historically the term Timber wolf was a term applied to wolves east of the Mississippi.
    Remember that it was basically a continues forest from the the Atlantic to the Mississippi with not much open ground until the late 1700s due logging and farming.

  22. avatar J in cda says:

    Thanks for clarifying, I assumed pretty much the same in my findings. I here so many “stories” like “that species of wolf became extinct in the 1930s” and “that species of wolf only weighed 80 lbs max., not enough to take down an elk”. I realize this has nothing do with the quota in the zones but I do appreciate the replies.

  23. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Everything that I have found states they are the same species. You are right J in cda. Also, the only wolves that weigh 80 pounds in North America are Mexican wolves.

    I have not seen Mark on here in a while. I am also curious about the state’s plan to reduce the wolf population to 500.

  24. avatar Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JeffE –
    “I asked Mark Gamblin pointedly on three different occasions what will be Idaho’s preferred method of reducing the population to the stated ~500.”

    Thanks for your persistece Jeff, it’s a good question that deserves an answer. Public hunting is the preferredOur management plan is being implemented with hunting as the primary management tool at this time. Whether or not another management tool is considered or employed in the future – I can’t say because we aren’t there yet. I don’t know of any such consideration at this point in our management plan implementation. The progress made at the end of this hunting season with traditional public hunting to achieve our wolf population objectives will be evaluated at that time.

    “I also asked Mark Gamblin what was the specific sound management considerations that were used to come up with the 5 kill limit in Southern Idaho.”

    Jeff, the harvest limit – 5 wolves – is a conservative limit but your point about low numbers of wolves in the Southern Idaho Zone is understood. Part of the answer you ask for is that the Southern Idaho Zone is, for a variety of reasons, not suitable for sustained presence of wolves. The proximity to urban and agricultural devleopment, the assuredness of conflict between wolves, humans and livestock make that portion of the state simply unsuitable for sustained presence of wolf packs. The 5 wolf harvest limit is a measured but modest start, part of the learning process we are in with wolf management, towards our overall objectives and committment to manage for a viable, healthy and sustainable wolf population in Idaho that is balanced with other state resource management objectives.

  25. avatar huntinthedark says:

    I live in central Idaho. Earlier this year, on Jan. 24 to be precise, during one day of lion hunting on the Southfork of the Salmon, some buddies and I witnessed at least 16 wolves running elk into the river. Even with four people less than 60 yards away, the wolfs attention was solely on the elk trapped in the river. If anyone out there could have seen how tired the elk were you would have been pissed. Another time on the little salmon, just above rapid creek on the east side of the little salmon, about 20 people including myself watched as a huge pack of wolves chased a herd of elk literally all day back and forth across the hill side. The following day, two friends and I walked up the mountain. We found 5 individual kills, in a 1000 yard square area. All of the elk had minimal damage. They were just killed and waisted. Unless one would argue that the wolves were just simply taking down elk to feed the birds. We took photos of the kills. And then came wolf season. I was not one of the thousands that bought a wolf tag, I guess because shooting one would be totally out of spite, with the way I feel about them. But I wish I had! On two different occasions, not more than 10 miles east of Donnelly, I saw packs of wolves of at least 7. The first group I saw was chasing a herd of elk. A big herd. And with all the people hunting in the area the elk stood no chance. The hunters would push the elk to the wolves, and the wolves would push them right back to the hunters. Just about completely wiping out that herd. If you go up there today, with the heavy snowfall we just had, and look for an elk, you might just find one. More than likely a calf, with dog tracks in its tracks. Just pushing and pushing until the end. And enough with the elk. We used to have awesome Mule deer hunting in the area. But those days have passed as well. Just look at harvest reports for muleys in the area. There is plenty of evidence out there to show how devastating these big dogs can be. Oh ya a timber wolf is a gray wolf, Just a sub species. “Timber wolfs” usually weigh in at between 50-85 lbs. But the larger “Gray wolf” can reach up to 300 lbs. Quite a difference. But I guess as long as they are a majestic, beautiful animal that doesn’t really matter. Does it?

  26. avatar J in cda says:

    @ huntinthedark
    A 300 lb wolf would be a world record, I’d love to see this specimen or even a photo of it. The largest recorded wolf on record was about 175 lbs in Alaska in 1939. Also, from research that I haven’t found any legitimate proof that the Idaho “timber wolf” was as big as you say it was. If you supply your legitimate source(s) I would appreciate it.

  27. huntinthedark,

    You’re new to this forum.

    We have discussed the size of wolves here many times, but it is always good to go back over it again. Folks come and go here.

    I can say with confidence there are no 300 pound wolves in Idaho or anywhere else.

    If wolves got that big, they would not live in packs. As it is, they use packs in part to magnify their effective size and catch bigger prey. Lone wolves are sad are usually short lived animals because they can’t bring down big enough prey to sustain themselves without getting injured.

    If wolves grew to be 200 or 300 pounds, they would gradually turn into solitary hunters like cougars, tigers, and grizzly bears.

    Wolves are also not built to carry that much weight. A 300 pound wolf would develop joint problems very quickly.

    They often look so big because they legs are very long. In the winter, their thick fur greatly magnifies how their appear.

  28. avatar gline says:

    “If anyone out there could have seen how tired the elk were you would have been pissed.”

    huntinthedark, I hate to tell you, I would not be pissed. The wolf is trying to eat, like other predators, including yourself. That is what they do, they are killing prey. not a pretty sight for sure. African lions do the same thing to their prey. Domestic cats eat birds. It is nature.

  29. avatar Save bears says:

    300lbs?

    That would indeed be a sight to see, because in recorded history, there has never been a wolf that big!

  30. I was trying to explain why wolves at 60 – 130 pounds, are what we actually have Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. It is the best size for an carnivore than lives in packs that chasees deer, elk, moose, caribou, etc.

    Larger is inefficient, so is smaller.

    Wolves are also generalist hunters unlike cats. By their nature they don’t make as clean a kill as a cougar. Pound for pound a cougar is more lethal than a wolf. Cougar can take sick or healthy deer and elk. Wolves being less able to kill quickly search for an animal at a disadvantage. That more often means weak, sick, old, injured.

  31. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Huntinthedark, you were observing nature, nature is not nice. It is more natural for an elk to die that way than it is by someone shooting it. A far as more elk being killed than the wolves ate, yes that does happen, it is sort of like stocking the pantry. Weasels and minks do that as well. Are you not trying to stock your freezer when you hunt?

    As far as the hunters and wolves pushing elk toward each other, it sounds like you have some pretty intelligent wolves in the area that the Army might like to get their hands on…

  32. avatar gline says:

    FYI I was just reading tonight that shrews do that as well- “stock the panty” -underground with live prey. I was reading this because I found a dead shrew today and wanted to identify.

  33. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    “stock the panty”

    You mean stock the pantry? 🙂

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