Is 650 wolves in Idaho a lot, or not?

There are about 650 wolves in Idaho. To hear some tell, this “incredible” number is devastating the big game herds, menacing people, and driving farmers from their lands.

“How many do you want. When will the “wolf-lovers” ever be satisfied?”

I’m a friend of the wolf, and its prey. I’m a friend of the cougar too, and its prey (which is approximately the same as the wolf’s). Likewise with the bear.

It seems odd that no one ever asks how many cougar or bears are their in Idaho? Now we have an approxmimate answer. Idaho Fish and Game indicated they estimate 20,000 black bears and 1500-2000 cougar in Idaho. Oh, and each cougar eats more than a wolf.

Sometimes there’s nothing like relative numbers, rather than absolute numbers to bring controversies into perspective. You can bet the anti-wolf crowd will do nothing to put the number of wolves into perspective. It’s up to you to do it.



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  1. Dave Collins Avatar
    Dave Collins

    Well as I see it there wasnt any big bad bear stories or killer cougar tales, only the big bad wolf. Sounds like people need to seperate fact from fiction. Are peoples peception of reality base on these old tales. Should we just kill everything that we cant control or thats scars us. Where does it end?

  2. Overlander Avatar

    Back in the early 90s, people were fussing about cougars in Idaho. I’m not sure wolf haters will concede that they’ve weakened their case against wolves by not hating cougars enough. Seems like there’s been plenty of fear-mongering about cats.

  3. Howard Avatar

    Have any biologists made estimates on Idaho’s carrying capacity for wolves? I believe that biologists in Colorado estimated that that state could support 1,000 wolves a few years back.

  4. Monty Avatar

    I wish someone would ask the more important question: what is Idaho”s human “carrying capacity”? Of course, this question will never be asked as this subject is wrapped in the flag of inalienable rights, religion, pro eternal growth beliefs and the perception of super abundance and inexhaustiblity.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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