Montana FWP and Idaho Fish and Game submit wolf reduction proposals

Idaho and Montana have submitted proposals to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for approval to kill up to 186 wolves in Montana and up to 80% of the estimated 76 wolves in Idaho’s Lolo hunting zones.

Here is the IDFG proposal:

IDFG proposes an adaptive strategy to reduce the wolf population in the Lolo Zone. Wolves will be removed to manage for a minimum of 20 to 30 wolves in 3 to 5 packs. The level of removal will be dependent on pre-treatment wolf abundance. Using the minimum estimated number of 76 wolves in the Lolo Zone at the end of 2009 (Mack et al. 2010), a minimum of 40 to 50 wolves would be lethally removed during the first year. Removal during subsequent years would be lower, but variable, depending on wolf abundance. However, IDFG will maintain a minimum of 20 to 30 wolves annually in the Lolo Zone for a period of 5 years.

We’ve covered the Lolo wolf issue in detail over the last several years.

In Montana it is being described as a “conservation hunt to relieve population pressures and associated biological, social, and political pressures that currently jeopardize support of wolf recovery in Montana”. Since when does the Endangered Species Act allow for hunts to relieve “political pressures”? It doesn’t, in fact the ESA requires that decisions be based on the best available science not “political pressures”.

Frankly, I can’t see how the USFWS will see this as anything but a sport hunt aimed at reducing a population of wolves listed as an endangered species.

FWP Seeks Conservation Wolf Hunt Permit By November.
Montana FWP Press Release

Lolo 10(j) Wolf Reduction Proposal.
IDFG’s actual proposal.

Montana, Idaho send wolf hunting plans to feds.
The Associated Press


  1. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr


    Isn’t this an area where IDFG has spent considerable time/effort/$$ in the past few years to put out satellite collars? Do you think the state would exempt those wolves and their packs from this removal? It would seem extremely unproductive for them to have invested in gathering data, and presumably still wanting to learn from those wolves, but then kill them in order to meet this proposal’s stated goal.

    Will the Wildlife Services’ (WS) EA be in place by the time the state would consider these removals? Seems like they’d have to rely on them to conduct the killing, as IDFG has had 2 helicopter crashes of their own in the last 12 months- certainly they should be undertaking some sort of internal review of their aerial program.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I’m guessing that WS will try to get their final decision on their EA done before any of these actions take place but, based on info obtained from the administrative record on the lawsuit against WS, if they don’t have NEPA coverage then the State is likely to do it using a private company.

      I would think that IDFG would rather kill uncollared wolves but who knows? I would think that they would like to use them to find new wolves to kill and to monitor this project.

  2. Nancy Avatar

    Jay, here’s just a sample of collared wolves in Montana and what has happened to them and their familes in just the last 8 months:

  3. JB Avatar


    This is another gray area in the law. The ESA does allow for the hunting of endangered species in “extraordinary” circumstances. Hunting is specifically included as a legitimate method under the definition of conservation (see below). The question is whether this situation rises to the level specified by the law–i.e., “where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved.”

    Section 3 (3) @ 1532
    “The terms ‘‘conserve,’’ ‘‘conserving,’’ and ‘‘conservation’’ mean to use and the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to this Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking.”


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ken Cole