New Idaho wolf update

After a very long time with no Idaho wolf updates, so leaving folks to speculate, Idaho Fish and Game issues an update-

IDFG Sept Oct 2010 wolf progress report



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  1. Craig Avatar

    Ralph can Native Americans shoot wolves now and are there limits if so?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      The rules are the same for them as anyone else.

      1. jon Avatar

        Off topic here Ralph, but I am trying to get in contact with curt Mack. Do you have his email by any chance and what is he doing now? He left the Nez Perce tribe correct?

      2. Craig Avatar

        Intresting, is that because of the status? The rules differ for other Big game and fish. Is it also the same if it’s on the reservation?

      3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        It’s the same on the Nez Perce reservation. The Nez Perce Tribe’s reservation has almost no tribal land. This isn’t true of the reservation by me in SE Idaho, the Shoshone-Bannock. They have a lot of tribal land. A lot of people buy tribal hunting and fishing licenses here. Nonetheless, no one can legally kill ESA species on the Res.

      4. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        Mack is still working for the Tribe. He’s currently doing a lot on bighorn sheep, which is a big issue for the Tribe and lot of the rest of us too.

        Back in the early days, the Nez Perce lived off of bighorn. They were very abundant until domestic sheep were brought in with all of their loathsome diseases.

      5. WM Avatar


        As Ralph’s comment implies, since everybody plays by the same rules, all the NRM wolves are listed now, and hence protected under the ESA. If and when they are delisted again the approved state plans kick in. The Nez Perce are included in the ID plan, and if ID assumes management agency status again with delisted wolves this provision will apply.

        Try this for starters, the ID wolf management plan, and specifically the section on Tribal Harvest, page 34 (pdf page 39).

      6. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        This is true, but I don’t think many tribe members went wolf hunting, or will.

  2. Craig Avatar

    Ok thanks Ralph! I was just curious, we were up Steelhead fishing and an Indian was telling us about all the Elk, Deer, and Bighorn he shot this year up on the Clearwater. Said he got the Bighorn outta his boat and was like 194″ . I was just curious to what the rules were for Wolves because they can shoot more than 1 Big game species according to him.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Tribal treaty rights are a complicated thing, at least to my mind. . . complicated and controversial.

      I’ll bet this guy was just blowing smoke, but you can judge better than me

      1. Save bears Avatar


        Actually it depends on the treaty rights that have been negotiated..I know of several instances of Native Hawaiian’s harvesting Monk Seals which are a highly endangered species, but they are still allowed to take some every year..

        But again, it comes down to what has been negotiated..

      2. Save bears Avatar

        I will also add, that certain tribe’s have negotiated treaties, that allow certain members of the tribe to negotiate on their own behalf, so you have tribes out there that have certain members that are granted rights above and beyond the rest of the tribe, depending on their recognized status in the tribe..

      3. WM Avatar

        ++Tribal treaty rights are a complicated thing++

        Indeed. And especially the compliance issues even among and between tribes and their individual members.

        In addition to whatever reservation lands and written treaty rights apply, as in hunting “normal and accustomed hunting grounds” the tribes will often have their own regulations that apply to tribal members (including non tribal prohibitions and licensing), setting out seasons and permissible takes for each species. Whether such rules are followed by individual tribal members is an entirely different thing. While the number of tribal member violations will vary by tribe, in some cases poaching, both on and off reservation is substantial, or even one tribe poaching on another tribes lands. I am aware of instances on the Yakama Res in WA, and on Olympic National Park lands where tribal members have shot bull elk only for the antlers, and even a case involving a Nooksack tribal member who shot two big bulls out of season, on Yakama off reservation hunting grounds in winter, claiming a treaty right to do so (WA Fish & Game prosecuted the case and after an appeal the guy was convicted, State v. Buchanan,

        Maybe in the short-term Nez Perce won’t be taking wolves when they come off the ESA, but over time, I suspect some will. We may never publicly know about it. Don’t get me going on tribal compliance with anything doing with fish or game. You won’t like the answers, and alot has to do with enforcement AND failure of tribal court systems and why.

  3. Craig Avatar

    Hard to tell Ralph, I have friends up there that say he has shot more trophy animals than anyone they know and they live there and know him and have seen the animals. I personally have not and he was in the bar bragging about how many Steelhead he got. We caught 22 between 4 of us the largest a 42″ which is huge and he said he catches or nets 10 times that a day! He’s a real asshole and loves to rub in how much he kills catches and doesn’t care about conservation because it’s his right to take what he wants.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Same attitude then as a lot of poachers, although they don’t claim treaty rights, but some other reason why they could shoot whatever they wanted.

      Isn’t Rex Rammell making that sort of claim?

    2. Salle Avatar

      I believe that Save Bears is correct about Treaty Rights. It does depend on the treaty agreements – and how well the state is willing to recognize them. As for the guy bragging in the bar about his catch, maybe he was just pulling your chain because he thinks the same of you, Craig.

      In states like Wyoming and Idaho, the states launch an offense to treaty rights on a regular basis. I know from my Nez Perce and Eastern Shoshoni friends that they have to go to court at least once a year to remind the state(s) of their rights and to protect them whether it’s land use, water rights, or hunting/fishing rights.. or whatever the else the idiots in the state legislature conjure up as offenses to treaty rights. Seen it, watched for decades myself. Ever notice how few other ethnicities are represented in the legislatures of these two states in particular? Might be something to take notice of when deliberating (in your own mind) how Native Americans act and respond to you.

      The fishing rights for the Idaho tribes (those who have reservations in Idaho) state that they have the right to harvest the last fish in a waterway, regardless of rarity or endangered status, because they have been harvesting those fish since time immemorium. Meaning that they have this negotiated right since anyone can remember and certainly since long before the Euros showed up. They have specific rights regarding hunting based on their negotiated treaty.

      If you look at how water use rights for the rest of us in the west function, you get an idea about how that works, sort of… the exception being that the Native Americans were here for thousands of years before Europeans found their way here.

      As for wolves, when I was making a presentation to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Council several years ago, the members were truly moved to be honored with recognition for their success in reintroduction and stabilization of the gray wolf to/in Idaho… They are given an honorable place in the culture and respected for their natural traits. NonNative Americans would do well to learn about this type of respect for other species… but I suspect that deriding that which is different is more entertaining and self-fulfilling for the white culture, just watch the news for ten minutes, any news on TV…

      I don’t think hunting wolves is one of their intentions, at least not for the sake of reducing the population. If they do hunt them at all, I believe it would be out of a ceremonial/spiritual nature that nonNative Americans could fathom. Wolves are not food and their pelts are only used for special ceremony so I don’t think that hunting wolves is a sport in their culture.

      1. Salle Avatar

        Corrections to the above comment:

        “Meaning that they have this negotiated right since anyone can remember and certainly since long before the Euros showed up.”

        Should have been… Meaning that they have this negotiated right because they have been fishing these waterways since anyone can remember and certainly since long before the Euros showed up.


        “If they do hunt them at all, I believe it would be out of a ceremonial/spiritual nature that nonNative Americans could fathom.”

        Should have been… If they do hunt them at all, I believe it would be out of a ceremonial/spiritual nature that nonNative Americans couldn’t fathom.

        Early morning-ness… my mind thinks faster than my fingers can type…

  4. JB Avatar

    For those that keep demanding that wolf populations are in dire need of management and “control”, I think it is instructive to look at Table 1 in this report. You will note that 127 of 137 (93%) documented wolf mortalities were human-caused. There is a substantial amount of wolf “management” going on.

    1. WM Avatar


      …and yet the population seems “robust” and expanding.

      Of those 137 dead wolves in Table 1, roughly 89% were WS control actions or other protection of livestock actions (65 +11), or the balance of the legal wolf hunting season harvest Jan 1 thru March 2010 (46).

      On the other hand, the tally of CONFIRMED dead livestock is 186 plus 1 dog. So if it is wolves v. livestock is there a way of keeping score? Difficult because without at least 65 removed by WS and some of the hunted wolves, there would have been more dead livestock and dogs.

      *This is not a value judgement whether livestock and wolves should be sharing the same ground, or whether owners could do a better job of “managing” their property on the public lands. It is just a statistical comparison.

    2. JB Avatar

      …and yet the population seems “robust” and expanding.

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “robust” in this context. If you mean that the population is viable, then sure I agree; and I would also agree that the population (with the exception of southern Idaho) is well distributed. [Note: I’m not trying to nitpick, its just that “robust” is a very vague term.]

      However, “expanding” I am not so sure about. Other than expansion into Washington and Oregon (some of which appears to be from Canada), the wolf population in the NRMs has occupied the same areas for a few years now. And, as you know, the numerical estimate of wolves actually indicates a slight decrease in Idaho from 2008 to 2009 (though given the error inherent in these types of estimation, it is probably best thought of as stagnant). It will be very interesting to see population estimates this year.

      I’m glad you brought up livestock depredation statistics; however, while you appropriately note that there were 187 confirmed depredations so far in 2010, you left out that there were 385 in 2009, 333 in 2008, 278 in 2007, etc. Of course, the table only provides information through 3/4s of the year, so we should expect another 60-70 depredations this year (assuming they are proportionate across seasons). Still, that would be substantially less than occurred in either 2008 or 9.

      Regardless, my initial point still stands: a substantial amount of wolf management is already occurring.

      – – – –

      On an entirely different note, I was encouraged to see that thus far there were only three documented cases of illegal killing of wolves in Idaho this year.

      1. Jay Avatar

        That’s the ironic thing about Butch’s tantrum in pulling out of management due to not being able to conduct a wolf hunt–he already had a hunting season, it just happened to be through WS instead of “sportsmen”.

      2. WM Avatar


        I can’t recall exactly where I saw the term “robust” but, pretty sure it was in relation to the recent ongoing dialog with the press and the 3 governors. So, not my term exactly, and I probably should have said something sarcastic or put up a smiley face (still don’t know how to do that). I did put quotes around it, however.

        2008 wolf plan says something like 43 breeding pairs (pdf page 13/90). ; the Sept/Oct 2010 wolf progress report (topic of this thread) says 49 breeding pairs as of 12/31/09, so we need to wait for the next tally to see where the official number is for 2010. But, for now, I will still go with “expanding” in ID alone, and we do know there has been documented out-migration to WA and OR, possibly UT (and CO?).

        With ID Governor Butch sucking his thumb, IDFG won’t know as much as it should for subsequent reports because they officially are stopping monitoring, collaring, etc. as of October 18.

        Range within ID, I am not so sure about, but do believe it is still expanding. An ambitious soul might even overlay the ID maps in the annual wolf reports to see what changes show on their tracking data over time. Maybe there already is a time series animation that someone has already done (can’t imagine it hasn’t been).

        One has to wonder if this Sept/Oct. wolf progress report is the last. FWS will probably continue, but with less verifiable data. Will they do winter wolf counts as thorough as IDFG? Will they know of as many mortalities? (big issue IMHO since no ID official will investigate according to Butch) Will FWS collar as many? Is there range expansion? Lots of questions and nobody to provide the answers, it seems.

        Important is the work of the U of Montana folks on the bio-fence research, and Ausband’s research on monitoring techniques (alternatives to collaring funded by the Wolf Recovery Foundation and others).

      3. WM Avatar


        You will get a kick out of this. Do a Google search using the following terms: robust + wolf + population

        It has been used as a term of art by a number of wildlife agencies, and as suggested by one or more governors in the last month.

      4. JB Avatar

        Yes, it seems…

        robust + wolf + population = talking point

  5. howlcolorado Avatar

    I am confused, which I am sure happens on a regular basis…

    However, Table 2… in which they draw some significant attention to 2009 (for some reason) so the Hunter Harvest jumped out at me.


    okay, well, Idaho extended their hunting season in to 2010, I remember that… cool.

    + 46

    = 181

    Am I missing something obvious here as to why the number doesn’t add up to 188 (which was as I recall, the final official tally for the wolf hunting season)?

    Also, for those who are going to inevitably get drawn in to debate about the livestock predations… something to consider.

    Based on these numbers, and the amount of success seen by ranchers who institute good animal husbandry and predator deterrence programs (a success rate which can be as high as 90% reduction – in all predations, not just wolves), for 2010 to date, the total number of wolf depredations on livestock would have been roughly 20 animals.

    160+ animals = how much in financial losses? Isn’t that worth investing in solutions, instead of just compensation + Wildlife Service exterminations?

  6. Cris Waller Avatar

    Another interesting thing I noticed was something that was predicted by the article on the futility of wolf hunting that George Wuerther wrote and which was linked to here a while back- that wolf hunting leads to pack fragmentation and thus more wolf packs and a higher reproductive rate. This report indicates that although wolf numbers declined by almost 3%, pack numbers went up by 6% and breeding pairs by 25% –

    “The year-end minimum population estimate for 2009 was 835 wolves in 94 packs with 49 breeding pairs confirmed (breeding pair is defined as an adult male and female with at least tow pups that survived to December 31). The 2009 year-end minimum estimate of 835 wolves compares to the 2008 year-end minimum population estimate of 856 wolves in 88 packs, with 39 documented breeding pairs.”


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