Idaho issues draft "Wolf population management plan."

Yesterday Idaho issued a draft plan that is being called a plan to provide for “limited” hunting of wolves (would they call it anything else?). And of course, the media will buy that phrase, at least for a while. In fact my home town newspaper has just such an on-line poll this morning. “Do you favor a plan to allow limited hunting of wolves in Idaho?”

No doubt the Governor was told or figured out that his early statement about wolves that was extremely hostile, was not helpful in the cause of reducing wolf numbers in Idaho, so he has a nice statement included for this plan .

A quick glance once over of the plan indicates to me that it is a plan to kill as many wolves as possible under the disguise of hunting, while allowing the state to claim they still have 15 breeding pairs of wolves or more. It is a plan to cause maximum disruption of wolf packs and one that will probably increase the number of livestock killed by wolves as disrupted packs and females with pups try to feed their offspring.

It is not a hunting plan; otherwise management would be to keep the population nearly stable (as they do for deer and elk) and the hunt would be in the winter when wolf pelts are at their finest. Nevertheless, they are saying it is to manage wolves like other big game and the person who digs no further will probably say “that is OK; it makes sense.”

While Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League are being promoted as seeing this plan as acceptable, this is not true. It was more like they were merely handed the plan slightly in advance of release. Yesterday a Defenders spokesperson told us this is just a flat out lie. It is not acceptable to them.

The plan does provide for having an area or two where management will be so people might view wolves, but no specific areas are suggested, nor size.

Because it is Thanksgiving, a full analysis of the plan will have to wait, but you can read the plan at the Idaho Fish and Game website

Because I haven’t read it fully, it will probably have to correct some mistakes.







  1. kim kaiser Avatar

    curreint vote 52% good plan
    47% bad plan

    thurs pm

  2. Chuck Avatar

    (While Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League are being promoted as seeing this plan as acceptable, this is not true. It was more like they were merely handed the plan slightly in advance of release. Yesterday a Defenders spokesperson told us this is just a flat out lie. It is not acceptable to them) Its these groups that are not happy unless all the wolves are gone.
    This plan does not sound very good for the wolves.

  3. Mike Wolf Avatar

    It’s an AP story in the headlines on Yahoo News about delisting. It’s rather short, and not at all complete.;_ylt=A0WTUZcsXEdHBxYBIxKs0NUE

    I want to act on something Dave Mech said. He indicated that wolves will thrive even despite hunting. He says that huting won’t hurt populations because the wolves will prove to “wily” for hunters. Yet, wolves are killed every month here in Idaho alone, illegally. Hardly outsmarting hunters. Dave also forgets how wolves were removed from the wild. They were hunted, trapped, denned – all tactics hunters would use.

    I would hate more than anything to see wolves die, but if they die, I’m going to make sure I shove this right down Dave’s throat. He is wrong, and his arrogance in his stance will be proven wrong. Wolves were once hunted to extinction, and they will be hunted there again.

    One thing I have tried discussing with Dave is the social nature of wolves and the effects hunting would have. Wolves are a social family group. If you see a wolf in the wild, chances are pretty great that it will be the alpha male or female, the leader of the pack, and the storehouse of the pack’s hunting and other knowledge. So, if hunting were allowed, it is, I believe, likely that the alphas would be first to be killed. Given that many packs consist of an alpha pair (parents) and their offspring, the alphas would also be the biggest wolves in many cases. While in elk, the biggest animal isn’t always the healthiest, among wolves in packs like this one, that would be exacty the case and dillution of the gene pool to select wolves for those who are smaller, more afraid of humans would occur all over again.

    A theory I have also been tossing around is the idea that the wolves reintroduced was in fact a different “species” than was factually present in Idaho before the reintroductions. These wolves, as the likes of Ron Gillet have observed, were smaller, and also more solitary, and less adept at hunting elk because they were usually those wolves that didn’t stay in packs. We in fact, I theorize, selected this wolf through hunting them to near extinction.

    And when you consider this theory, and other notions about wolves, hunting suddenly becomes a VERY bad idea.

    I don’t know about you; but I’d rather be conservative about this and not rush into bowing to the pressure of anti-wolf legislatures and fish and game departments (ahem, Idaho) as well as hunters and permit hunting which hasn’t been studied adequately. While the wolves in the Northern Rockies have been declared experimental non-essential; $25 million and 12 years would go to waste if this experiment fails, as I believe it would.

    Sorry, but I don’t believe in sacrificing wolves, not for appeasing ranchers (Defenders’ compensation program), not for appeasing politicians (new 10j proposed changes), not for a self-proclaimed expert’s sake (Dave), and not so that Idaho Fish and Game can get their way either.

  4. Chuck Avatar

    I recently filled out Idaho fish and games comment on the present wolf plan, one thing I stated in my comment was if there were only (I will use the number 700), 700 elk would there even be talks of a hunting season, I would say not. I am not willing to let these beautiful animals go extinct for a 2nd time, thats not an option. You can’t stand there and try to feed me a line that they will be hard to hunt, come on people. They will use any and all means, some illegal, to kill these wonderful animals. I think all these whiny farmers need to realize that they are guests on the animals land, the animals were there long before the farmers.

  5. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Mike Wolf, will you elaborate on what you wrote “Eliminating grazing isn’t going to solve things; it will in fact make them worse.”

  6. JB Avatar

    These types of polls are utterly useless. IDF&G has no idea who is actually responding to the poll–I assume they want to represent the interests of Idaho citizens, yet I was able to cast a vote from Ohio. Moreover, groups that promote a particular interest are far more likely to be heard as they have channels of communicating with their members. You can bet Idaho “Sportsmen” for Fish & Wildlife is forwarding this poll to anyone who will listen. Utah tried a similar tactic, collecting data at their Regional Advisory Council meetings. Research that occurred at roughly the same time showed a huge discrepancy between Utah’s informal poll and data collected via established survey methodology:

    “[UDWR] found 719 of 897 attendees (80%) identified ‘‘do not allow wolves in Utah’’ as one of their top 3 management priorities…[h]owever, our survey, which used probabilistic sampling and weighted data to accurately reflect regional population distributions, found over half of respondents agreed with the item ‘I would like to see wolves in

    …and “…Most wildlife professionals would object
    to relying on guesswork for complex, biological decisions
    regarding species conservation. Yet, when managers rely on
    anecdotal evidence or convenience samples to gauge public
    opinion, guesswork will result.”

    See Bruskotter et al. (2007). Are attitudes toward wolves changing? A case study in Utah. Biological Conservation (139) 211-218.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thank you, JB.

    If anyone has professional credentials for public opinion survey design and proper sampling procedures, they should comment on the plan.

    I do, having taught courses in public opinion and also designing and conducting sample surveys, but we need more than one person.

    I commented on their methodology used for ascertaining if wolves were having an identifiable negative effect on the upper Clearwater elk population. That was during the comment period about a year ago.

    They “lost” my email, so comments should be delivered to them in both forms.

  8. JB Avatar


    Not sure if you’ve seen this, but I just found the statewide survey that Idaho conducted (available here: I think this table pretty much says it all:

    Question: I enjoy knowing there are wolves in Idaho.
    n mean SD D N A SA
    Random/NotHunter 205 3.51 12 9 19 33 26
    Random/Hunter 219 2.48 35 20 16 20 9
    Hunter 650 2.19 46 16 17 16 5
    Livestock 370 1.88 58 15 12 10 5

  9. JB Avatar

    Okay, so the formatting didn’t come out right, so I will summarize:

    59% of randomly sampled non-hunters agreed with the statement “I enjoy knowing there are wolves in Idaho”, while just 29% of randomly sampled hunters agreed.

  10. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    And the 59% of randomly sampled non-hunters that agreed with the statement “I enjoy knowing there are wolves in Idaho” have, by law, precisely the same degree of vested interest in the wildlife and management thereof of Idaho as well as the right to be fairly represented at the state level as any other group, be they hunters, livestock producers, or Idaho based oil and gas producers. Out of state entities, be they individuals, private or public corporations, have NO right to the wildlife or the management of wildlife in Idaho.

    Idaho needs a Wildlife Watchers of Idaho to represent them at the state level.

    Mack P. Bray

  11. Chuck Avatar

    Idaho Wolf Meeting this Thursday Nov 29th at the Idaho fish and game headquarters-5pm to 8pm in the trophy room.

  12. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    I emailed Brian, hoping he will be able to video the meeting.

    Mack P. Bray

  13. be Avatar

    the word is Jim Unsworth has been compelled to postpone the meeting, agreeing with folk concerned at the continued tendency of IDFG to publish notice of these meetings 2 days in advance.

    i believe the meeting has been postponed until IDFG can issue a new news release with at least 10-14 days notice for the first meeting and include in that release a final list of regional meetings with set dates and times.

    thanks to Jon Marvel for the phone calls on behalf of a decent public notice !

  14. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    IV. Public Viewing Opportunities

    Some stakeholders and members of the public have requested specific viewing opportunities for wolves that are subject to no, or only light, hunting pressure. The criteria below were drafted to allow viewing opportunities to be established.

    6. Outfitters in the area agree to the strategy and are eligible for financial compensation, through non-government organizations, to offset differential losses between hunting opportunity and wolf viewing revenue.

    What the hell is that? First off, what’s the intent behind “…to allow viewing opportunities to be established…” You want to watch wolves, you head out to AMERICA’S public lands and find them. And outfitters have to agree to allow wildlife watching? “Outfitters in the area agree to the strategy…” is extremely vague language. And NGO compensation for outfitters? Yeah, let’s prop up yet another industry that’s having problems adjusting to the changing culture of Idaho.

    Idahoans, don’t accept this from your Fish and Game Department.

    Comment and make the meeting Thursday.

    Mack P. Bray

  15. kt Avatar

    It’s all about privatization folks – privatization of wildlife on public lands for killing-for-profit by the whining Outfitter’s.

    Trying to make sure there are SO many deer and elk that even the most fumbling of Dudes – or whatever outfitters call their clients – can blast a big one.

    And trying to turn public lands into a “game” production factory so that all those Guns and Guts Gear shacks can sell more camo crap from China.

    BUT of course, first and foremost, it is about essentially privatizing management on our public lands even further to benefit the public lands Welfare Ranchers. The cornerstone of the Plan is that Wolves Will Be Slaughtered by any means possible where public lands livestock graze.

    AND too it is really a State takeover (I view Idaho state control of anything under the current Otter regime) as being an intermediate step towards the state taking over management of ALL things on public land – which has long been the goal of the long line of ID politicians (Google “Federal Lands Task Force” – which, of course, is itself an intermediate step toward further grabbing control of all resources on public lands for the benefit of a very select few whining ranchers, loggers and other exploiters.

    Think of it. The State is essentially taking over what those “Feds” APHIS Wildilfe Services had been doing … now turning the local rabble (including Butch Otter) out to blast non-selectively at wolves.

  16. Layton Avatar

    Mack B.

    Do you live in Idaho??


  17. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    No, but so what.

  18. Layton Avatar

    Simply seeking a point of reference. AND wondering what your’s was with the “changing culture of Idaho” comment. Nothing malicious, no “cheap shot”.


  19. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a major cultural shift happening in the mountainous west.


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan