Idaho Has Changed the Definition of a Wolf “Breeding Pair”

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is using a new definition for “breeding pair” that differs from the definition used in the USFWS delisting rule of 2009. This definition is important because it is the primary marker used to determine whether wolves should remain delisted from protections of the Endangered Species Act or not. The state of Idaho seems committed to only maintain the absolute minimum number of breeding pairs it can to keep them from being relisted but Idaho Department of Fish and Game is having a difficult time monitoring wolves and documenting the minimum required number of breeding pairs because there has been such high mortality among collared wolves. This high mortality has caused them to lose contact with many of the packs they are trying to intensively monitor, in turn, it has led to them loosen the criteria they use to determine what constitutes a breeding pair. With the increased effort exhibited by Governor Otter to reduce the population even further, it may become even more difficult for Idaho Department of Fish and Game to conclusively document the minimum required number of breeding pairs.

There is a legal definition for what a wolf “breeding pair” is that is very specific and this definition has undergone changes over the years to make it even more specific. When the reintroduction of wolves was being contemplated during the 1980’s, the USFWS determined that it needed to define what a wolf breeding pair was so that they could accurately define the recovery goals.  The 1987 recovery plan “specified a recovery criterion of a minimum of 10 breeding pairs of wolves (defined as 2 wolves of opposite sex and adequate age, capable of producing offspring) for a minimum of 3 successive years in each of 3 distinct recovery areas…”

The 1994 Wolf Recovery Plan  changed this definition in the 2009 Wolf Delisting Rule as they explain below.

We were particularly concerned about the 1987 definition of a breeding pair, since any male and female wolf are ‘capable’ of producing offspring and lone wolves may not have territories. […] Based on our analysis, we redefined a breeding pair as an adult male and an adult female wolf that have produced at least 2 pups that survived until December 31 of the year of their birth, during the previous breeding season.

As described in the 2009 Rule, this definition was intentionally changed to be very specific and implicitly requires that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game identify the two breeding adults by sex and their pups at the end of each year now that they are tasked with management authority.  Instead, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has been cutting corners and classifying any two adult wolves, regardless of sex, and two pups, regardless of their relation to those specific adult wolves, as a “breeding pair”.  This allows the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to pad the books in their favor.  There are several scenarios where this could be true.  For example, two male adults and two pups could be classified as a breeding pair under their revised criteria.  And that requires the ability to distinguish between pups and adults.

This is important because“[a]fter delisting, if in any 1 of the 3 recovery areas the wolf population fell below the minimum of 10 breeding pairs for 2 consecutive years, then wolves in that recovery area would be considered for protective status under the [Endangered Species] Act.” -see 2009 Delisting Rule

The 2009 Delisting Rule, which is the rule that the USFWS was required to publish in the Federal Register when Congress delisted wolves in the Northern Rockies outside of Wyoming, contains triggers for a status review.

Three scenarios could lead us to initiate a status review and analysis of threats to determine if relisting is warranted including: (1) If the State wolf population falls below the minimum NRM wolf population recovery level of 10 breeding pairs of wolves and 100 wolves in either Montana or Idaho at the end of the year; (2) if the wolf population segment in Montana or Idaho falls below 15 breeding pairs or 150 wolves at the end of the year in either of those States for 3 consecutive years; or (3) if a change in State law or management objectives would significantly increase the threat to the wolf population. All such reviews would be made available for public review and comment, including peer review by select species experts. Additionally, if any of these scenarios occurred during the mandatory 5-year post-delisting monitoring period, the post-delisting monitoring period would be extended 5 additional years from that point.

The 2012 IDFG Report changes what is considered a breeding pair.  Instead of identifying the adults in a breeding pair as “an adult male and an adult female wolf”, the IDFG changed that to “≥2 adults” with no specification of sex.  Because it is difficult to identify the sex of the adults, without a close observation, it appears that IDFG is sidestepping this requirement.  Similarly, it is virtually impossible to differentiate a pup from an adult after December 31 while observing them from an airplane, which is how the end-of-year monitoring is conducted.  To underscore this, in Yellowstone they routinely capture wolves in January by darting them from a helicopter and they have caught a number of sub-yearling pups that weigh as much as 90 pounds. When you compare this to the average weight of adults, 86 lbs for adult females and 101 lbs for adult males, you can see the the difficulty of differentiating between adults and pups at this time of year from the air.

Here is how the 2012 IDFG Report determined what constituted a “breeding pair” in 2012:

Breeding pair status was evaluated considering all data collected for a pack from spring through winter. Breeding pairs were determined by either: harvest or capture of ≥2 pups after December 31, 2012 from a documented pack with ≥2 adults known present at end of year, or summer verification (via visual/aural/remote camera observations or DNA analysis) of ≥2 pups and 2 adults and one or more of the following: late fall/winter aerial, ground, or trail camera observations by IDFG/NPT or cooperating agency biologists consistent with the persistence of ≥2 pups and 2 adults; late fall/winter verified public observations consistent with existing pack information and indicating the persistence of ≥2 pups and 2 adults; and/or no documented mortality indicating <2 pups or <2 adults at end of year.

Using this method, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that at the end of 2012 there were 35 breeding pairs.

The State of Idaho and Nez Perce Tribe (NPT) monitored wolves cooperatively in 2012 in Idaho through a Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2005. Biologists documented 117 packs extant within the state at the end of 2012. The year-end population was estimated at 683 wolves (Appendix A), an 11% decline since 2011. In addition, there were 23 documented border packs counted by Montana, Wyoming, and Washington that had established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary at the end of 2012. Of the 66 Idaho packs known to have reproduced, 35 packs qualified as breeding pairs at the end of the year. These reproductive packs produced a minimum of 187 pups.

The obvious question is, how many of these breeding pairs actually met the USFWS definition? The bigger question is, can Idaho Department of Fish and Game conclusively document the minimum number of breeding pairs in the future when the population gets closer to the apparent 15 breeding pair goal of the Idaho political elite? I’m sure that Idaho Department of Fish and Game will start throwing around statistics to counter this but the paper that they cite in their reports each year only evaluated that the probability of different sized groups of wolves would contain a “breeding pair” under circumstances where there wasn’t heavy hunting, trapping, and control pressure that takes approximately 40% of the population each year. The study was conducted pre-delisting when the only real pressure on wolf populations was killing by Wildlife Services or natural deaths by other wolves, during a time when populations were growing.  Clearly these are not the existing conditions.

Currently the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is attempting to address this monitoring problem by placing more collars on wolves and focusing intensive monitoring on a certain number of wolf packs. They are trying to identify the breeding adults and get good pup counts but they were having problems because so many of the collared wolves were being killed and contact was lost with many packs. This seems to explain the fudging of the definition and adds uncertainty to whether the state can conclusively show that they meet the minimum numbers as required by the delisting rule when populations get closer to the objectives set out by the Legislature.

You can add even more uncertainty to this problem when you factor in Governor Otter’s proposal to create a “wolf control board” or factor in the new strategy developed by private groups who have created a private bounty program that reimburses wolf trappers $500 dollars for each dead wolf. Additionally, you might want to factor in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game killing of wolves in wilderness, or the likelihood of more wolf derbies.

One form of growth we don’t want to encourage is in the wolf population that was imposed on us almost twenty years ago. With your unflinching support we were able to fight through the opposition of those who would make Idaho a restricted use wildlife refuge and take back control of these predators from our federal landlords. Now we’re managing them now, and they’re a trophy hunting species (sic), and the population is still growing, and our resources remain at risk.  So I’m calling for the establishment of a wolf control fund and a state board to direct and manage it. My budget recommendation that calls for a one-time allocation of two-million dollars to get the fund started. That base could be… would be augmented with continuing annual contributions of at least a hundred-and-ten-thousand dollars from the livestock industry and a matching amount from the Idaho sportsmen. This three-pronged approach will provide the revenues needed to effectively control Idaho’s burgeoning wolf population and ease the impact on our livestock and our wildlife. – Governor Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter at his January 6, 2014 State of the State Address

Contrary to the assertion by Governor Otter that the wolf population has increased, the population of wolves has actually declined from its high of 856 by about 20% to 683 as of the end of 2012. In addition, since we’ve had another year of hunting, trapping, and agency killing, the population has probably declined further this year.  By my tally there have been 464 wolves killed this year, 39 more than the 425 documented deaths last year.  He should probably get his facts straight before setting wolf policy but I guess it’s a long standing tradition in Idaho to set wolf policy based on inaccurate information.

I question whether there are adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to protect wolves in Idaho now that Idaho has taken over management of them. You should too.

For more information see these past articles on The Wildlife News:
Who’s not willing to compromise on wolves? on OCTOBER 11, 2010 by KEN COLE
Wolf mortality in Idaho, a final toll. 48 – 59 percent of Idaho wolves killed in one year. on MAY 7, 2012 by KEN COLE
State Public Records Request Shows Widespread Capture and Mortality of Non-Target Animals Related to Idaho Wolf Trapping During 2011/2012 Trapping Season on FEBRUARY 14, 2013 by KEN COLE
Idaho Year-End Wolf Population Declines 11% to 683. Livestock Losses Increase.  on APRIL 2, 2013 by KEN COLE



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  1. Cody Avatar

    It seems like just when you think idaho can’t get anymore aggressive they just kill more wolves and do whatever they can to make it seem like what they’re doing is right and that idaho is just crawling with wolves when in fact, with the size of the state and forests, the density of wolves is extremely low. It amazes me that atrocities like this are allowed to keep happening. Thank you for showing how ridiculous and narrow minded the people in idaho are.

    1. WyoWolfFan Avatar

      Where are Idaho’s priorities? Do they care about anything but killing and complaining about wolves?

      1. Robin Lindemann Avatar
        Robin Lindemann

        Yes they do. They care about the livestock industry and the sportsmen (read ranchers and hunters) That’s what they care about. Never mind that they consider 2 male wolves to be a breeding pair. (Hey it don’t work in humans and it don’t work in wolves.) That the reintroduction of wolves was forced on them. And that apparently, almost no one in that state knows how to count.

  2. jdubya Avatar

    Maybe we need a citizen’s campaign to find collared wolves and remove the collars…leave them off the grid so to speak.

    1. Zig Pope Avatar
      Zig Pope

      I think that is a good idea. We are well aware that shooters of wolves particularly rejoice when they kill a collared wolf. Facebook pages full of perverse remarks and comments left by those who support such vile behavior.

  3. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    In what alternate universe does just any two unverified sex adults make a breeding pair? Surely they can’t get away with this. I knew the irrational mindset and shooting collared wolves would catch up with Idaho. Yay!!!!

  4. snaildarter Avatar

    Idaho is just plain disgusting an I’m from the south so I have pretty low expectations from State governments.

    1. Mark L Avatar
      Mark L

      I’m from the south too, so Idaho’s idea of counting ‘same sex domestic partners’ (albeit in wolves) is disturbing…man up y’all, come on. But not suprising, considering the legislature (cue the nervous sheep jokes).

  5. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Time to develop an EMP rifle…shoots an electromagnetic pulse that will kill the electronics of a radio collar out to ~500 yards but not harm the animal. Won’t even have to be aimed real accurately.

    Any retired IEEE members out there who love wildlife and might want a little spare time project ?

    1. Connie A Reppe Avatar
  6. WM Avatar

    It has been awhile since we have discussed this.

    Whose obligation is it to “prove up” that ID and MT have met their respective ESA legal obligations of 150+ wolves and 15 breeding pairs with genetic connectivity under the April 2, 2009 rule [codified under the Congressional rider], with WY contributing its 150/15 under a separate rule. operating as a connected metapopulation. Is it each state’s showing they maintain at least this, including meeting the obligations of their genetics cooperation memoranda, or is it a US FWS’s obligation to show they DO NOT meet their obligations, before wolves might be considered for relisting? I am inclined to believe it is the former, but simply can’t recall. Anybody know for sure?

    I also recall FWS seeming to believe the wolf population would be managed among the 3 states at about 1,000. So, despite the disappointment to some, there seems to be considerable buffer between the minimum and what is represented to be on the ground.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      It ought to be very entertaining to see what the answers they come up with are.

    2. IDhiker Avatar

      I don’t recall either, but it would seem sensible that the FWS should make the determination. It is obvious that the state agencies cannot be trusted. Just reading Otter’s lies show IDFG can’t be expected to provide accurate information, since Otter is their boss and IDFG does his bidding.

    3. MAD Avatar

      If you read the rule from 2009 that was reinstated by the Congressional rider ( there is no clearly enumerated “burden” on USFWS to verify the #s they receive from the State Fish & Game agencies. On page 15113 in the first 10-15 lines it explains the circumstances that would “trigger” reversion to USFWS control over wolf mgmt, but nowhere does it specifically state who will gather the data and how it will be verified.

      As a default, USFWS has allowed the States to publish population #s due to the ongoing hunting seasons in the 3 states.

      I’ll tell you this, if the BS compromise # is 15/150 in each state (3 yr avg or 10/100 for 1 yr)- no state will ever admit to there being less than that number, even if they kill every last wolf in the state. There will be phantom wolves running around, killing livestock and wreaking havoc. USFWS will never ever gain control over wolf mgmt in the Northern Rockies again.

  7. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Last summer my daughter, 2 sons, and husband, went on a commercial float on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. She had been down several times prior on our family and friends private trips.

    She plans on spending no more vacations in Idaho because of this destruction of wolves in the Frank and elsewhere; ditto here.

    1. Fishing_Idaho Avatar

      Just so you know, IDFG receives no state tax dollars for its funding. The only people that you are hurting by not coming back to Idaho are the whitewater outfitters (who happen to be some of the most liberal people in Idaho). I wasn’t sure if you were aware of this and just wanted to let you know. Not all of us in Idaho, even rural Idaho, are wolf hating rednecks.

  8. Leslie Avatar

    It appears to me that ID has the most draconic approach to wolves of all three states; maybe wildlife in general.

    Anecdotally,I have been living in Sunlight basin now for 10 years, seen wolves singularly up close and in packs in the winter. They are usually wary of people but if far away enough people are not a bother to them. I’m accustomed to watching them in winter especially. But this winter is different. If a wolf even sees my car, not even my human presence, they run faster than I’ve ever seen a wolf run until they are out of sight, miles away. I suppose that is a good thing, but I can’t help feel very sad, and angry, at what us humans represent to the world of wildlife.

  9. Jon Way Avatar

    Thanks for this detailed post, Ken, and for showing IDFG maintaining their science-based corruption. As they say (via Mark Gamblin), this is a great example of the North American Model in action (sarcasm intended). Other nations must think we are hypocrites when we slaughter our carnivores, yet demand that other nations preserve theirs.

    1. IDhiker Avatar

      Oh please, don’t mention Mark Gamblin…thinking of him gives me indigestion!

  10. Ken Cullings Avatar
    Ken Cullings

    ““≥2 adults” with no specification of sex”……tell me, and I’d love to hear from some of the anti wolf crowd in Idaho on this one… these people actually understand the mammalian reproductive process? Or, do they think that they get babies by walking over the graves of their ancestors or something. FFS.

    1. Fishing_Idaho Avatar

      My guess would be that they chose that criteria simply due to budget issues. It would be very costly to actually have to monitor wolves to the level where they knew the sex of the majority of the adults in the state. I can’t even begin to imagine how labor intensive that would be, and I know that at least around Salmon, that there is only one biologist assigned to monitor the wolf packs.

  11. Carter Niemeyer Avatar
    Carter Niemeyer

    After working for the USFWS and seeing the infrastructure of the wolf recovery team dismantled through directed reassignments and retirements,the USFWS would have no ability to assess the number of wolves in the NRM region. Those estimates are in the hands of the states now.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Because Carter Niemeyer applied both his sweat and his mind to the not so easy task of estimating the wolf population, and knows all those who did the field work and came up with the numbers, his short comment above is very important.

      1. Connie A Reppe Avatar

        Dr. Maughan; Is the temporary injunction order in discussion today? And/or actually scheduled for hearing on 03/10/14 and thereafter on 04/10/14. Then it is assumed IDFG trapper/hunter is isolated and the nonrestrictive program is in-progress.The wolves are unnaturally throw-aways for evermore, gone. IDFG/USFS are demonstrating acts to cause anger and confusion by interfering and advocating restrictions within a natural balanced wilderness eco-system. Choose to manipulate the natural environment
        “manage wildlife” with count numbers and credibility becomes suspicious. IDFG will never “of those person(s)” involved in their lifetime be able to fulfill you, yourself Dr. Maughan, lifetime of achievements, spanning 40 years. I applaud your standing relationship with wildlife and the life’s endeavor to the introduction of the “gray wolf” species to be recognized in North America. And also an extended hand to your family, not forgetting the all-around long term supportive friendships acknowledging the importance of a threatened species.

  12. Connie A Reppe Avatar

    sic tran*sit glo*r*ia mun*di., In-waiting for relevant collaboration regarding principal objectives; to rescind the extermination program, and/or injunction prohibiting any further extermination of ‘Gray Wolf’ species in Frank Church Wilderness., dated for Jan. 14, 2014 court brief. State socialist Gov. Otter statement remarks, raises questions over species management in part because all data close to real time has been destroyed and no longer has relevant computations of estimating population connectivity and there is no suitable precautionary measures in order to protect the gray wolfs in Frank Church Wilderness refuge. Back to the Sleepy Hollow Chair; Gov.Otter accountable niggling remark of “stateless zealots” lacking nationality. Well, I say; wattle and daub observe St. Swith’in’s Day!

  13. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Management by State would
    still maintain a robust wolf population
    in each core recovery area because they
    each contain manmade or natural
    refugia from human-caused mortality
    (e.g., National Parks, wilderness areas,
    and remote Federal lands) that
    guarantee those areas remain the
    stronghold for wolf breeding pairs and
    source of dispersing wolves in each

    Well, I guess this is proven not to be true, since trapping is going on in the Frank Church wilderness.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Here’s a letter to the editor in the Moscow-Pullman review (I can’t get the entire thing because I don’t have a subscription, but perhaps someone does?) Apparently the ‘trapper’ hasn’t been successful because the letter mentions something about ‘taking to the air’ to wipe out some wolf packs.

      We’re probably never going to hear the truth about wolves from any sources in Idaho because there is so much irrational fear and hatred of a predator that is more effective at hunting than humans. This 21st century witch hunt is now being fanned by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s proposal of an “independent board” that would decide how many and where wolves will be killed to make hunters happy and help livestock growers who won’t take responsibility for protecting their animals. Otter refuses to adequately fund education or help the people of Idaho obtain health insurance, but he is willing to use $2 million of our taxes to fund a special board, which will also have funding from private donors, to help “manage” wolves. Real unbiased and scientific, isn’t it? One might wonder where the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is in all of this, except I think we know – doing the bidding of hunters, trappers and livestock owners.

      If that doesn’t already make Idaho look like the inhumane fools we are, federal wildlife killers have been hired to take to the air to wipe out two wolf packs inside the Frank Church Wilderness. Wilderness areas are where wolf packs are supposed to be – if outfitters can’t find elk to kill there, well tough.

      I also can’t imagine how the State-funded board is going to manage paying for itself for long. If Salmon and other places are crying about unemployment and poverty, perhaps they’d better call their governor and congressmen to find out why their taxes are going to fund wolf hysteria, and why their unemployment benefits haven’t been continued.

      1. Ken Cole Avatar

        I think the writer is misinformed. There is no indication that Idaho Department of Fish and Game is killing wolves in the wilderness from the air. They would have no legal ground to stand on. Our helicopter darting case put an end to that.

        They are killing wolves from the air in the Lolo outside of wilderness though.

      2. rork Avatar

        Says federal wildlife killers have been hired too. The “air” might be stretching that landing strips were used, is another theory from plain old misinformed.

    2. WM Avatar

      ++Well, I guess this is proven not to be true, since trapping is going on in the Frank Church wilderness.++

      Not completely. If I understand, there are at least 6 documented packs in the Frank (which likely means there are more, and likely reproducing), and IDFG’s trapper has a directive to focus on just two packs. There is also, apparently, an abundant wolf population to the north and east in MT wilderness and wilderness study areas, just 30-60 miles away Whether he follows the directive is yet another matter.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Wow, they’ve even managed to piss off Jim Akeson. He doesn’t often speak up publicly.

      1. jon Avatar

        “Rep. Lawerence Denney, chairman of the House Resources and Conservation Committee, said Fish and Game needs to be free to do its job, protecting the game animals that encourage hunters to buy licenses.”

        As I said, all Idaho fish and game care about are making money off of killing wildlife. Clearly in Idaho, not all wildlife is treated equally by the Idaho fish and game. Elk and deer are not more important than wolves and other predators.

        1. Ida Lupines Avatar
          Ida Lupines

          My feeling is that they should certainly leave them alone in the Frank Church Wilderness. They are managed enough elsewhere. Are they really such a threat in this remote area?

          1. IDhiker Avatar


            Would you please move to either Idaho or Montana! We really could use you out here.

            1. Ida Lupines Avatar
              Ida Lupines

              I’d love to, believe me! 🙂

        2. Fishing_Idaho Avatar

          Unless the basic funding method of IDFG were to change, then there will never be an opportunity for all wildlife to be treated the same. Elk, and to a lesser extent deer, tags (especially non-resident tags) are easily the department’s largest source of revenue. Without a source of revenue that doesn’t depend on elk and deer (such as state tax funding or wildlife watching fees/donations), then it is unreasonable to expect them to not manage towards those species that allow them to pay their employees. I’m not arguing for either side here, but I just wanted to point out the reality of how funding influences priorities.

      2. IDhiker Avatar

        Well, since I know Jim Akenson, I have to say I’m surprised it took him this long.

        1. Montana Boy Avatar
          Montana Boy

          Danaher wolf report November 2013
          Had a couple friends who were there for a week with tracking snow. Fresh wolf tracks most mornings number at least 5. One fox which liked to check out camp each night. Two otter working creek. No elk, deer or moose, the question became what were the wolves eating. Scat check reveled beaver. Next time your in there I expect a beaver population report, unless I get there first.

          1. IDhiker Avatar

            Montana Boy,

            Back in September, I saw the biggest beaver I’d ever seen down near Big Prairie, along with a few regular size ones. There are definitely a lot of beaver dams etc. on the upper Dry Fork and Danaher Basin. How many actual beaver present, I don’t know.

            Just curious, were your friends in there hunting? My wife and I were the first civilians into Big Prairie last year, or at least the first to sign the register. We went through the Danaher from the North Fork trailhead.

            This year we are planning to go in early May, depending on the snow this winter – down to the White River and back. Last few years it was a go by first weekend in May, so we’ll see.

            I don’t really care for snowshoes or skiing, so that’s about the earliest for me.

            1. Montana Boy Avatar
              Montana Boy

              Hunting, but mostly just getting away from it all. The Danaher hasn’t been really good hunting for some time, more of a tradition type thing to go in now.

              1. IDhiker Avatar

                Yes, I remember my dad and his horse packing buddies talking about the Danaher reverently when I was still in high school. My first time in there was about 1972, I believe.

          2. IDhiker Avatar

            Oddly, even though the Danaher appears to be excellent moose country, I have only seen one there once, down by the outlet, and it was before the wolves were back – so a long time ago.

            I did not see any elk there this past September either, although there were quite a few white tails. There weren’t any hunters either, but we saw plenty of recent camps. Apparently, hunters come for the first couple weeks and then generally clear out.

    2. Lonnie Avatar

      i truly believe wolf monitoring should be done by wolf lovers and not by a board or group of individuals who want to kill them.

  14. Patricia Avatar

    People in Idaho need to be at this meeting:

    There will be many public conversations this year about wilderness in Idaho beginning Wednesday before the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

    The Commission will hold a public hearing at the Washington Group Plaza that gives people a chance to comment on any of the many issues it considers. But its vote the next day, Jan 16 on its draft elk management plan is certain to bring people concerned about wolves and wilderness.

    1. jon Avatar

      Idaho fish and game are catering to a small loud minority. Idaho fish and game had the wildlife summit. Know why? because deep down they know that hunting in Idaho is declining and there are many others in Idaho who prefer shooting wildlife with a camera rather a gun. Non-hunting conservationists are the future. The majority of people that live in Idaho don’t hunt and only a small % of people that live in Idaho trap.

      1. Fishing_Idaho Avatar

        I replied to a different comment of yours but then noticed this one. I think you might be underestimating how popular hunting still is in Idaho, but you are absolutely right about the growing interest in wildlife photography and viewing in general. In order for people who participate in those activities to have any influence over the IDFG though, then they must provide some source of revenue for the department. I believe one reasons in having the wildlife summit was to attempt to identify some ways that IDFG could generate revenue from the non-hunting or fishing public. Do you have any ideas about how that could be accomplished? They do the custom license plates, although I have a hard time believing that they generate very much money through those.

  15. Joanne Favazza Avatar
    Joanne Favazza

    I don’t trust anything that comes out of the mouths of state wildlife agencies in the Northern Rockies–especially in Idaho.

    ID, MT, and WY are proving time and time again that they are entirely incapable of “managing” wolves. All of these states have a backward mentality toward wolves, enacting policies driven by hatred, fear, politics, and Big Bad Wolf myths rather than science.

    I still can’t believe that the Senate Dems and Obama put their stamp of approval on Tester’s politically driven delisting rider. They knowingly gave these backward state politicians and wildlife agencies free reign to do whatever they want to wolves in order to drive them to the brink of extinction. Utterly disgraceful.

    1. Yvette Avatar

      They probably didn’t even know. I doubt if those politicians, either party, read much of what is in many of those bills. I had hope in Obama when he was elected for his first term, but he and his agency appointees have proven to be an abomination for conservation, environment and animal protection. Worse than Bush. My loathing of politicians has reached an all time low.

      I wish there was one or two politicians would had the cajonies to attach a rider that worked to benefit conservation and animals. Highly unlikely.

      1. Joanne Favazza Avatar
        Joanne Favazza

        Yvette: The Dems in the Senate and Obama knew Tester’s delisting rider was attached to the budget bill. There were other riders that they removed, but they let the delisting rider stay in spite of the objections of numerous scientists. They wanted Tester to keep his Senate seat to ensure the Dems would retain their majority in the Senate. The backroom dealing that was involved with the delisting rider (which included ex-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar) has been well documented.

  16. Joanne Favazza Avatar
    Joanne Favazza

    “With your unflinching support we were able to fight through the opposition of those who would make Idaho a restricted use wildlife refuge….”

    This is an incredible statement by Butch Otter, the man who wants to kill all of the wolves in his state in order to create elk farms.

  17. snaildarter Avatar

    You can do all the bureaucratic dancing you want to but there is no excuse for State supported trapping in Wilderness especially to change the balance of predator to prey species. It’s just plain wrong and it goes against the basic concept of wilderness, and that goes double for the Forest Service’s involvement.

  18. Zig Pope Avatar
    Zig Pope

    “classifying any two adult wolves, regardless of sex, and two pups, regardless of their relation to those specific adult wolves, as a “breeding pair”.

    I think this line of thinking explains the abject stupidity of the obviously inbred homo sapien species, who live in ID and support this definition. It is the only plausible explanation.

  19. april lane Avatar
    april lane

    Thank you for your continued work on the ID population. Living so close to the ID-MT border (I live in Kalispell, MT) I watch this issue closely. Tell me,is there a move on your part or that of others to challenge Idaho’s ‘new definition’ of a breeding pair?

  20. Mary Jones Avatar
    Mary Jones

    wtf? dont they get it what it means ” 1 mate for life”?

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Wolves are not monogamous. They’re not swans.

      1. Nancy Avatar

        Ken – had a friend this past summer do some traveling around Montana and she sent me a letter with a post card included because of the picture – a wolf.

        On the back it says Wildlife of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and then a small paragraph about the Gray Wolf (Canis lupas) First sentence? The gray wolf mates for life and lives in packs of family members and relatives.

        I’m sure a lot of people would take that as the gospel truth unless they researched it further 🙂

      2. JimT Avatar

        Makes perfect sense..they are a pack species..

  21. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    I have a question.

    It has always been taught that wolves mate for life. Now, we are being told they do not. Of course, if hunters are picking off their mates, they’ll have to find a new one – but I wonder if this ‘new’ theory is related to hunting pressure. Coyotes reproduce more the more they are hunted?

    Also, I don’t see how killing a thousand wolves (give or take a few) per year is wise, with a break of only a few months between yearly hunting seasons. We started out with about 6000 in the lower 48. How can this continue? How can the pups grow up and learn their pack skills in only a few months before it’s a no-holds barred killing season? They are a complex mammal.

    Of course, only with the new mythology that ‘wolves breed like lemmings and will replace each other like a production line for hunters and revenue for the states.’

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Make that ‘another no-holds barred hunting season’.

    2. Ken Cole Avatar

      I know of an incidence in Idaho where the grey alpha male of the Buffalo Ridge pack was displaced by another black wolf who went on to sire several subsequent litters of pups with the female. The former alpha male survived for many years afterwards and was finally killed in the Wood River Valley by the Phantom Pack. He had a noticeable limp after he was displaced and his pups hung out with him instead of their mother and the new alpha male. I saw them many, many times near Clayton, Idaho. I even got some photos and several plaster casts of his prints.

  22. snaildarter Avatar

    I would say that wolves (and song birds) are monogamous but I would re-define monogamy as a pair raising offspring together as a parenting team and being faithful to that effort. The occasion opportunistic sexual straying seems to be universal among all creatures “who mate for Life.” A wolf pack is generally a family of related members where only the alpha male and female are not related by blood.

  23. JimT Avatar

    Ken, can you explain to me,legally, how it is that the Idaho FG gets to alter a federal delisting agreement definition in a blatantly clear attempt to keep the ESA trigger from activating?

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Good question. I have no answer.

    2. IDhiker Avatar

      State and Federal agencies often do things that are illegal or unethical or both. It is up to the citizenry to be watchful and keep them honest. That will be the case here.

    3. Anita Chittenden Avatar
      Anita Chittenden

      Jim T. I too have been wondering that. I thought once a species is delisted and new management takes over that species…they have to abide by certain rules for so many years after their delisting from the ESA.

      I am also wondering who was this that decided on this? Was it one person, two persons…are they biologist? Do they sit up all night thinking of this nonsense..I really would like to know.

  24. Jerry Colbruno Avatar
    Jerry Colbruno

    I lived in Idaho and Montana and spent a lot of time outdoors in the woods in my employment and also as a meat hunter.(I have never been a trophy hunter.)I never, even once, had the honor of having seen a wolf, little lone a wolf pack.This crazy Governor and his cronies would have people believe the state is overrun with wolves.This idiot and his friends need to be stopped or we will have no more wolves in the wild, and that would be a serious crime, and the ones guilty need to pay.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Jerry C – it would appear that wolves are not the only predator Idaho is “vague” about:

      “Idaho is one of the few states which refuses to make any official estimate on the number of lions currently residing within the state. This is hardly remarkable, since a population estimate would raise the possibility of public scrutiny and accompanying criticism of their exceptionally high annual hunting quotas”

      A good site:

      A very good article on the site:


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Ken Cole