Idaho wolf update Sept. 13– Sept. 26, 2008

As most of you are aware, this is produced by Idaho Fish and Game Dept. There is more actual news in this one, including a new population estimate that shows Idaho’s wolf population up slightly compared to last year’s “end of the year” — official — report.

In this report and others, it is becoming clear the department is concerned about the connectivity of the Idaho wolf population to the Greater Yellowstone, the key to Judge Molloy’s injunction on the delisting. Idaho Fish and Game may be gearing up to let wolves flourish along the Idaho-Montana border, not just between Salmon, Idaho and Missoula, Montana and north, as they have, but although the Continental Divide (Idaho/Montana border) from Salmon to the Park area. In the past the wolves in this area have suffered heavy “control.”

The research component is interesting, and the our organization, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, is putting considerable financial resources into it.

In the report below, the boldface was added by me.

Ralph Maughan

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To: Idaho Fish and Game Staff and Cooperators

From: IDFG Wolf Program Coordinator, Steve Nadeau

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management, Weeks of Sept. 13– Sept. 26, 2008.

New: FWS – Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Status (WY, MT, ID): The U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, July 18, 2008, that immediately reinstated temporary Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain DPS pending final resolution of the case. This includes all of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of

Washington and Oregon, and parts of north-central Utah. On September 22, the United States filed its motion to vacate the delisting rule, return the gray wolf to the list of endangered and threatened species, and remand the matter to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The USFWS, the states, and Department of Justice await the courts decision on whether to remand the rule back to the USFWS. All wolves to the north of Interstate- 90 in Idaho remain listed as endangered. All wolves in the southern half of Montana, all portions of Idaho south of Interstate-90, and all of Wyoming are being managed under the 2005 and 2008 Endangered Species Act nonessential experimental population 10j regulations. The State of Idaho Department of Fish and Game is acting as the designated agent for the USFWS in implementing day-to-day management of wolves under the MOU between the Secretary of Interior and Governor of Idaho signed January 2006.

Delisting wolves and assuring their proper long-term management is and has been of highest priority for the state of Idaho and the Fish and Game Department. We continue to work along with the Department of Interior, Department of Justice, and other states and interveners toward the eventual delisting of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and move toward state management under the State Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the Wolf Population Management Plan.

You may review past wolf weekly publications on our wolf webpage and links along with all pertinent and updated wolf information and publications at:

IDFG and WS verified 7+ wolves (including multiple pups) in a new pack near the Canadian border. The wolves were localized near cattle on public land. There are no apparent depredations and cattle are scheduled to be removed from public land in a few days. Producers were contacted and contact was made with the local USFS district biologist and range con. A capture effort was unsuccessful.

NPT captured and radiocollared 2 wolves in Unit 20A in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. They obtained pack/pup count on a pack in Unit 10; minimum of 6 gray adults and 4 gray pups present.

Idaho provided the Service with preliminary estimates that will likely be very different at the end of the year. As of mid September, IDFG and the NPT estimated that there were 771 wolves and 89 packs, and biologists verified at least 155 pups. Counting wolves is best done from November through mid- January prior to peak dispersal and breeding times, and when snow covered ground provides better observations conditions from the air. Our end of year counts are finalized and published in the annual reports in March. In 2007, our end of year estimate was 732 wolves in 83 packs. You can see previous year’s progress reports at:


From January 1 – Sept. 26 agencies have documented 118 dead wolves in Idaho. Of those, 78 were depredation control actions by USDA Wildlife Services, 5 illegal kills, 13 legal kills, 3 natural kills, and 17 other. An additional 9 wolves were suspected dead (reported road kills not verified, collars on mortality not picked up, etc.).

From 1/1/08 – 9/26/08, WS confirmed that wolves killed: 9 cows, 75 calves, 193 sheep, 13 dogs; Injured: 1 cow, 7 calves, 6 sheep, 7 dogs; Probable killed: 5 cows, 19 calves, 57 sheep; Injured: 1 cow, 3 calves, 1 sheep.


From 9/13 – 9/26, WS confirmed five wolf depredations and determined that another one was a probable wolf depredation. WS confirmed that wolves killed a cow, 2 calves, 4 sheep and a guard dog. WS also confirmed that wolves attacked and injured 3 guard dogs, and determined that another 5 sheep were probable wolf kills. During the reporting period, WS killed 6 wolves and trapped and released 3 wolves (2 with collars) in response to these and previously confirmed depredations. During the same time frame last year, WS investigated six confirmed and one probable wolf depredation

Non-lethal control efforts are ongoing as per the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan in the area between Leodore and Yellowstone along the boundary with Montana. Radio collars have been placed on wolves in the area that have been implicated in depredations to further knowledge of wolf movement in the area and pursue non-lethal options prior to lethal control. Discussions of and use of non-lethal tools are ongoing with livestock producers to assist them in reducing livestock/wolf problems along this potential corridor.

Additionally, non-lethal efforts continue in a cooperative effort near Ketchum to reduce livestock/wolf conflicts. Four producers, USFS, USDA Wildlife Services, IDFG, Blaine County Commission, and Defenders of Wildlife are experimenting with the use of paid non-lethal personnel (funded by Defenders) who use fladry and penning for sheep at night, and attempt to scare wolves away from sheep during the night. Wolves have been around the sheep on a regular basis but to date only one sheep has been confirmed killed by wolves.


The University of Montana research crews wrapped up their summer efforts last week. The goal of this project is to find reliable, alternative population monitoring tools that are cheaper to implement than traditional radiocollaring methods. UM crews had a very successful summer testing “howlboxes” near multiple wolf rendezvous sites and collecting nearly 2,000 genetic samples from scats and day beds while surveying over 500 predicted rendezvous sites in central Idaho. Data analysis is underway.

Thanks to Dave Ausband the research leader, and Morgan Anderson, Barbara Fannin, Sean Howard, Ryan Kalinowski, Teresa Loya, Doug Miles, Adrian Roadman, Lacy Robinson, Adia Sovie, Jennifer Stenglein, and Ryan Wilbur for another great, productive summer.

Information and Education

Hunting season is upon us. We have received several reports of wolves being attracted to hunters calling elk, and wolves visiting hunter camps or eating poorly hung carcasses. IDFG recommends that hunters be aware that the sport of hunting increases chances of running into or attracting wolves and other carnivores. Carcasses and gut piles attract bears, lions, and wolves and should be treated carefully to avoid problems such as having your meat fed upon. The rule of thumb is to try to get the carcass out of the woods the same day it is killed. It helps to place the gut pile on a tarp and drag it away from the carcass. If that is not possible, hang meat 10 feet off the ground. You should leave clothes, human scent, tarps, etc. to deter carnivores from scavenging your meat. When returning to your kill, approach the carcass carefully and view it safely from a distance. Carnivores especially bears may be close by and might attempt to defend the carcass. Some bears, wolves, coyotes and other scavengers may venture into campsites if they smell meat or other foods. Place your game pole down wind of your camp and make sure the meat is secured 10 feet off the ground and 3 feet from a tree. Bears and wolves may eat carcasses hung within reach.

Also, wolves are protected under the endangered species act and killing one illegally is a federal offense.

The new IDFG Wolf Webpage is up and running. The new webpage includes information on the lawsuit and injunction that caused wolves to be temporarily relisted under the Endangered Species Act. It also has updated information on the new 10j rule under which IDFG is currently acting as the “designated agent” for the USFWS, and conducting day to day wolf management. What the public can and can’t do under the new rules is discussed. You can find the new webpage at:

We also would like to remind people that when wolves are in the area, please be aware that they may attack or injure dogs. It often helps to keep dogs in kennels or inside buildings at night and to not let them roam freely when humans are not around. When fresh wolf sign is found, place dogs on restraints and keep supervised. The 10j rule allows individuals to harass or kill a wolf attacking or molesting their livestock and stock animals including pets. If you are having concerns or problems with wolves close to your residence, please inform the Fish and Game Office nearest you.

Please help us manage wolves by reporting wolf sightings on our Fish and Game observation form found at:



  1. John Avatar

    The toll seems to be less than usual, then again this is only over a 13 day period.

  2. Barb Avatar

    Ralph, others, what is your opinion of “reporting sightings of certain wild animals?”

    “Please help us manage wolves by reporting wolf sightings on our Fish and Game observation form found at:

    I’m not sure I want to get a lynch mob out looking for an animal that was “sighted.”

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I never report sightings to them, and any sightings that people tell my about remain confidential too.

  4. Barb Avatar

    The mentality of wolf haters so reminds me of the movie “Mississippi Burning” which aired the other night.

    KKK members would viciously go after the black people for no reason whatsoever and the legal system protected them. The movie is based on a true story.

    The similarities of the mentality are astounding.

  5. timz Avatar

    I reported my first wolf sighting several years ago and got a nice email from Curt Mack, with info on the pack etc. I have never reported one since and would certainly not now.

  6. catbestland Avatar


    I have made that comparison numerous times before. I am from the south orriginally and I remember all of the Civil Rights turmoil through my childhood.

    Also, the Colorado Division of Wildlife asks for any wolf sightings to be reported. They have a report form for that very thing. I would NEVER comply. The way I see it, the less people that know about them the better off they are.

  7. Barb Avatar

    There is one obvious and common distinquishing characteristic in wolf haters and KKK members:


    Ignorance = Danger

  8. Barb Avatar

    Wouldn’t it be funny to report a bunch of “sightings” just to keep ’em busy?



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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Ralph Maughan