Wolf hunt closes in another Idaho hunting zone

Wolf quota is met in the Palouse-Hells Canyon zone on the Idaho/Oregon border-

The fourth Idaho wolf hunt zone has its quota of wolves killed. Eight zones are still open and four are now closed.  The quota for the newly closed zone was 5 wolves.  So far the reported kill overall is 129 131 wolves with 91 89 more to go, although it is likely that the fulfillment of sub-quotas, as just happened, will make the full quota of 91 more unattainable.

The Middle Fork Zone and the Southern Mountains will probably be the next zones to close because their quotas will be filled when one or two more wolves are killed in each of the zones.


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12-22. More. Several hunting zones continue to lag in the number of wolves killed compared to their quotas. They are Panhandle where 14 of 30 tags have been filled, Lolo 7 of 27, and Salmon where only 4 of 16 have been killed.

Most interesting is the Lolo. This is the area where we have been told time and time again there are incredible number of wolves feasting on the chronically depressed elk herd. If so, why not more tags filled? Mark Gamlin has already pointed out that the hunting unit is rugged and remote. That is mostly true. However, it does have motorized access and a number of roads. It is not designated Wilderness. Units actually inside designated Wilderness, Selway 6 out of 17 and Middle Fork, 15 out of 17 are having better hunting success. By law these have no roads. I suspect the answer is that they have more wolves. I don’t know how wolves can persist in any great number in the Lolo year after year when the elk herd is so depressed (and I don’t doubt that the herd is depressed). In other words, I don’t think there are all that many wolves in the Lolo.

The Salmon hunting unit has been controversial. From the very beginning we have been told that wolves are all over the place just west and northwest of the town of Salmon. This unit has a lot of road access. It also has a lot of deer, elk, moose that winter in the Salmon River Canyon and its tributaries. Salmon City has always had an excitable element in its population — quick to speak loudly about all natural resources/environmental issues.  I think he Lolo and Salmon unit quotas are most likely political quotas rather than quotas based on wolf abundance.



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  1. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    91 wolves left int he quota, but how many have been killed by Wildlife Services?

  2. Si'vet Avatar

    Ralph, here is my take as a hunter on your comments with regards to the wolf harvest number. At the end of October I started looking at the totals and here is my take. Again only experience. Of course wolf density, and access are a big part, but actual enviroment. And from the information I have gathered talking to people who have harvested wolves, a large % are incidental, or they were wolves that were known to frequent a certain area with a pattern if you will. Other than incidental, a couple other means to hunting them, is glassing (spot and stalk) or calling them. Most of the areas that are closed are areas with access, wolf density, and open country, good for incidental and S&S. I have hunted the Panhandle since 1988 and even though there is access, vegetation is thick, very tough for incidental, S&S, first place I filmed a wolf. LoLo has access, but again everywhere I found wolves and wolf kills it was thick, I have never glassed a wolf in the LoLo but have been in the middle of them, here I found the most wolf kills, 3 in 3 days in 3 different drainages. The Middle Fork has good density, limited access, but is open country, especially after the fires, good for S&S, a little incidental, plus I know some of the outfitters knew how to call and had some patterned. One other note for the MF, this year was supposedly one of the best steelhead runs ever, and from what I understand everyone with a fishing pole, had a wolf tag and rifle. And you know know what that area looks like when the fish are in. As for the Salmon area, it has access, pretty open, here I found the largest amount of wolf sign I’ve ever seen in one place. A group of wolves had cut across an open meadow, there were so many tracks I could never dicipher how many actual wolves there were, also the largest single track, it was huge. Some of the roads that would give you elevation to hunt these wolves drifted over very early and made access very tough, so maybe that played into it. So my thoughts, wolf hunting is very new, how to hunt them is still new, they are smart. Obviously, open, accessable areas, the easiest for success, thick or dense cover much more difficult with success lower even if numbers are higher. I don’t think the numbers in the LoLo will jump dramatically until more winter moves the game and wolves down along the rivers or more accesable areas. I also think one of reasons the F&G moved the close of the season is so that some of these wolves could harvested by hunters when they move down. With the way the LoLo darinages lay out, and heavey brush in the Panhandle I would bet a coke these 2 units never fill quota. As for Salmon, that’s a bit of a mystery. I will be back up there in January, so I may learn more.

  3. gline Avatar

    And, WHY do we have a legal wolf hunt? Wildlife services will do it all for you.

  4. spanglelakes Avatar

    As of tonight, the Idaho wolf hunt mortality total is at 131. As of last week, Wildlife Services had killed 103 wolves in Idaho so far in 2009. With the weather clearing, the WS airforce will be back at work shooting away at the 26 “chronic depredating” packs they list in their 2008 WS Report. Basin Butte was just the first to be slaughtered and the winter has barely begun.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I agree with you on some of these observations, especially the Salmon hunting unit, although I haven’t been there for about 4 years.

    Earlier, however, I saw a great amount of wolf tracks and scat. The number in Pine Creek, off the main Salmon was incredible, and also in Panther Creek and side drainages. This unit had the same great S & S runs this year like the Middle Fork hunting unit. So the different lack of success is something to explain. Maybe Wildlife Services has been busy there? Maybe it’s because the Middle Fork outfitters know where the wolves are, and there are not so many outfitters in the Salmon unit because of the roads.

    In the Lolo, it is dense. I’ve never seen many elk there or any wolves. It is getting to be a bit more like the Middle Forkis now in terms of fires. There have been a lot of them since 2000. If the area ever becomes a stronghold for elk again, I think it will be due to what made it great in the 1950s — the transitional regrowth from the new round of forest fires.

  6. izabelam Avatar


  7. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K.Sharpe


  8. Si'vet Avatar

    gline, I am not sure I understand your question, it may be that wolves are more prolific, more widely dispersed, they are a predator and in my opinion more challenging. This being the first hunting season there is much to learn. In my opinion, if the numbers of wolves are the same next year as this year, and even with hunters more experienced, wolf harvest rates will be very similar. The wolf will be more experienced as well.

  9. gline Avatar

    Si’vet – it was not a literal question. You don’t get it, and that is a matter of choice.

    The Wolf needs to be Protected -NOT experienced in being collared and aerial gunned down at the will of humans…

  10. Si'vet Avatar

    Gline- The wolf is protected, as are all big game animals , they are also managed, as are big game animals. I wish the continent was big enough to sustain everyones wishes, it’s not. Nabeki made a comment about emotion and passion with regards to wolves, there is a lot of that with regards to all wildlife. There are those that are just as passionate about deer, elk , etc, and have had to accept management practices they wish they didn’t, but for the most part you adjust a little. Your emotions run high as the wolf mortality numbers increase, those same emotions are felt as elk, deer etc. mortality numbers increase. I think I do get it.

  11. izabelam Avatar

    Si’vet…wolves are not protected anymore..they are HUNTED until we kill them all so we can reintroduce them again..see ..management…science…kill it first so you can reintroduce them agin and be successfull..elk hunt is not a matter of pure management..we eat elk or trophy hunt. we don’t wolves and we hate them. Never seen a hunt for an elk from a helicopter…hmmmmmmmm never seen signs to promote elk killing..never seen people hunting elk because they hate them….si’vet..your logic is not logical…sorry man…

  12. Si'vet Avatar

    Izabelam, in the state I live in, if I kill a wolf, outside of the “legal hunting season” fail to properly tag or report, I will be prosecuted, and penalized. That’s not legal protection? You can be rest assured wolves are not going to be killed completely off, they are here to stay. Your right about elk, it isn’t pure management. I as well have never witnessed elk being killed from a helicopter, I have seen them hazed. What I have witnessed are depredation hunts, hunts held in the late summer and very late winter that are used to drastically reduce elk numbers, and they work extremely,extremely well. A little different mode of operation same results. I think it is logical, as I stated earlier I wish we both could have it all. With regards to the hate, again as Nabeki stated, it’s more passion and emotion. The very thing that make us easy prey.

  13. spanglelakes Avatar

    About the Salmon Zone – why report a wolf “harvest” now, when IDFG’s anti-wolf Commissioners (the Death Panel) have extended the wolf hunt through the entire winter, right up to the wolf denning season? The Salmon Zone will probably suddenly be filled right before March 31 2010.

  14. gline Avatar

    Good question Spanglelakes…

  15. gline Avatar

    The Wolf needs to be Protected -NOT experienced in being collared and aerial gunned down at the will of humans…

    I’ll just say it again so you can understand Si’vet… I am not clouded by your tired “emotional” argument. time for a new tactic don’t you think?

  16. spanglelakes Avatar

    Si’vet – you apparently live in Idaho because you talk about hunting up north, and going back “up” to Salmon in January. FYI – Idaho wolves have no protection at all due to State Statute 36-1107, which says wolves can be shot if they are deemed to be “molesting” livestock or domestic animals.

    Molesting means “actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, drivng, flushing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals.”

    So, you take your hound dog and walk into a wolf den or rez site and a wolf challenges – you shoot the wolf and claim hostile intent or the wolf was worrying you. Or, you are an outfitter on a trail ride and encounter a wolf and it lays down and watches you – “lying in wait” – and you can shoot it.

    Or, more typically – ranchers use the ridiculous 36-1107. Eg: June 2008 – you are a newbie Custer County cowhand, and see a young Basin Butte Pack wolf hunting squirrels, 200 yards away and on the other side of the fence from cattle. You shoot her in the butt, and as she crawls away on her belly, you get closer and shoot her again and claim she was worrying the cattle. No problem, you do get a warning, but your powerful, politically-connected cowman boss is furious and starts plotting to get the entire wolf pack killed, and succeeds 16 months later.

  17. gline Avatar

    “Molesting means “actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, driivng, flushing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals.”

    I really don’t agree with this statement- wildlife individuals are not criminals… that is a human concept. It is really time to evolve past this type of thinking.. if at all possible.

  18. spanglelakes Avatar

    Something to keep in mind. If you want to keep your state job with Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game, show no enthusiasm at all for wolves, and repeat the Gov’s and Commissioners line that the only reason for wolves in Idaho is to hunt and kill them.

  19. gline Avatar

    Where are the whistleblowers? Come on folks.. there has to be some courageous soul out there. There is bad karma to pay for…

    Like I’ve said before, Idaho needs some new, preferably green blood moving into the state and the legislature. MT also.

  20. Cobra Avatar

    You should know by now your just wasting your time trying to get Gline and associates to see your side of things. It’s like you’ve said. It’s all about emotions running to high. All the wolves will be slaughtered, or they’ve eaten everything in sight on the other side. Both are not true.
    Wolves are here to stay regardless of if they are hunted or not. I think the helicopter thing is a bit much, but I bet in time the wolves for the most part will figure that out also. In southern Idaho with more open country it will still be easier than up here in North Idaho were it is so thick and steep.

  21. Si'vet Avatar

    Cobra, I understand, I don’t post for Gline, there are others that read this blog I share my thoughts and experience with. It’s a public forum so you have to expect those type of responses. A few weeks ago I slipped into the mud and got into a war of words with 2 other posters, I have apologized to Ralph, and apologize to those folks. There was absolutely nothing gained from that exchange. Ralph recently asked for input from people who hunt, fish. So that is why I got back on. When listening to both sides with regards to wolves it reminds me of a divorce proceeding, ugly divorce proceeding. Each side emotional, each side unwilling to give, and each side pouring a ton on money into “litigation” lawyers pockets. And at the end of the day, neither side is going to get exactly what they wanted and will be unhappy. The real tragedy will be the “kids” other wildlife issues that will suffer. Because of funds spent on, lititgation, fences not finished, habitat studies suspended, guzzlers left dry, grouse, pikas etc. forgotten or suspended. Again this is emotional, for both sides, hunting seasons and aggressive goverment control is somewhat new to wolf supporters, not so new to the other side, what is new to the other side is having elk numbers reduced by control and by wolves. Both groups have invested a lot more than $$$. So at the end of the day there were wolves and elk, and probably not enough of either to satisfy each group. What it boils down to is “change” and change is difficult. Has there ever been any thoughts of an advisory board made up of defenders, hunters, cattleman, officials, crazy I know but has it ever been looked into?

  22. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I would like to get almost all sides talking with one big exception — public land grazers. My belief after over 30 years of conservation work is that the inclusion of ranchers snuffs out cooperation and any possibility of change.

  23. Si'vet Avatar

    Ralph, here is something that you might find interesting. The large group of tracks I found in Salmon were within about a mile of a large piece of private ranch property. The cows had been moved off 2 days before, there was a dead cow on the property and it was obviously being eaten. We drove back to Salmon talked to the rancher to secure permission. We asked him about the wolf situation, he said there were quite a few wolves around, but he was pretty nonchalaunt about, hadn’t had any problems. It wasn’t that flurry you would have expected. This, for lack of a better term is a big time rancher and my guess somewhat influential. When I go back to Salmon if time allows, I will take a little extra time over a cup of coffee, get his total take. This fellows place is right there, in amongst them. The more I ponder the situation the more it peaks my interest.

  24. gline Avatar

    Gline and associates? I think we think for ourselves.

    “All the wolves will be slaughtered,”
    When exactly have I said this? You are trying to discredit me, but all I am saying is: wolves need protection. simple. Cobra, don’t lump me into a group, obviously you are aware of stereotyping doesn’t work.

    What is the point of discrediting anyway?

  25. gline Avatar

    Si’vet, right off the bat I can see that your nice Salmon area rancher story above would be the minority rancher. One only needs to read the bumperstickers about wolves. Could you be minimizing the situation?

    You have not replied to Spanglelakes post directly to you above and I would be very interested to hear your response.

  26. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    It would be interesting to find out why the rancher is not alarmed. For example, is it just a minority who make the noise, but the media run to cover all the noise?

  27. Si'vet Avatar

    Ralph, my thoughts as well, what’s the difference. Ralph, you said you haven’t been to Salmon for about 4 yrs. I’m thinking road trip later this winter, I’ll bet we could buy the rancher a coffee and find out his thoughts, as G pointed out he has to be a minority. Let me know if you would be interested, I could make the arrangements, only catch, we stop at Lone Pine so I can get a Lone Pine burger. Gline I briefly read thru S’s post, I did’n t get a clear cut question out of it. Help me out, interpret S’s post, ask me the question direct and I will try to answer.

  28. izabelam Avatar

    you said:
    Izabelam, in the state I live in, if I kill a wolf, outside of the “legal hunting season” fail to properly tag or report, I will be prosecuted, and penalized.
    Only is someone finds out. Think about all animals poached (not only wolves). No crime until someone discoveres it..and who would report a nice guy who shot a wolf….:)

  29. Si'vet Avatar

    Iz, all I can say, poaching is stealing and stealing is against the law, whether it’s a wolf or a bull. Sad to say not everyone obeys the laws, all we can do is be ever vigilante and be involved. Do you know, did the fellow in Mcall that shot the wolf, get caught or was he turned in. Here’s something that I feel is just as bad, ” filling your freezer” whether with fish or game and then “having to clean it out” the next year, because you had to much or didn’t take care of it!!! I will not defend those folks or poachers!!!

  30. Layton Avatar


    I also was hunting wolves in the Salmon unit recently, close to North Fork.

    Where we were hunting, and where we found the most wolf tracks wasn’t anywhere near private property – except for a couple very small private homes. Also there were no cattle for miles.

    The places that we found the wolf tracks were normally on the south facing slopes where we also found elk tracks. We found a couple of small bands of elk – none of the large bunches we normally see in the same area this time of year. It seemed like each bunch of elk had their own group of wolves. we saw three fresh wolf (I assume, no cat tracks and the bears are asleep – wolf tracks all over the place) kills in the three days I was there.

    We also saw a few, small groups of elk on private land close to hiway 93 — actually some of them were in people’s yards.

    Anyway, I don’t think that the only places that wolves are is around cattle.

  31. Si'vet Avatar

    Layton, I wasn’t trying to imply the wolves were just around cattle, or private property. I just thought it was odd this very large group of wolves near these cattle hadn’t been an issue, according to the rancher. I was south of Salmon towards Challis. I can guess where you were at, and close to where you saw the elk in peoples yards, really close to the road, we both know what that means. This late fall, I found a road kill elk, being fed on by a bear. Just before 100 acre. For me that was first.

  32. Si'vet Avatar

    Gline, did you come up with the question you wanted a response to with regards to spanglelakes comment. Is it in regards to his general comment why report a “harvest” now. If so, that’s simple.. I am required to do so by law… If that’s not it, let me know.

  33. Cobra Avatar

    We’ve noticed up here latey that the wolves have been more nocturnal. About a mile from the house there is a loggng operation going on and just about every morning there are fresh wolf tracks that have been going right through the middle of the logging. Logging seems to bring in some of the elk and deer so I imagine that’s why the wolves are there. Another thing we’ve noticed is the elk do not seem to be herding up like they usually do this time of year. Groups of 2-4 animals, usually a couple cows and calves, snow hasn’t been an issue yet in the lower country so I would think the wolves are probably having to work harder for a meal than most years about this time. The last 2 years we’ve had 2-3 feet of snow by this time and this year there might be 6″ in the same area. Makes it a lot easier on the elk to get away with no snow. I’m starting to think like Layton said, it seems like the wolf pack in the area we are hunting have split up to chase different bunches of elk. We’ve been seing 2-3 sets of wolf tracks following this bunch of elk and then go into a different drainage a mile away or so and see the same thing, different bunches of wolf tracks following different bunches of elk. We know they’re different wolves because of the size of the tracks. Makes me wonder if there are different smaller packs in the same area or one good size pack that have split up to hunt. Hopefully I’ll have more time to spend up there over the weekend to see what I can find out.


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