Dec 31

SE: The County Government is well prepared

The County Government is well prepared

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

This Saturday is the start of licensed hunting wolves in Värmland. Lars Furuholm, carnivore manager at the County Administrative Board of Värmland and one of those who will verify that not too many wolves are shot, consider themselves well prepared. Although he is a bit worried that the technology will make a fuss.

Every hour must the hunt leaders call an answering machine at the provincial government to provide information on how many wolves are shot.

“Of course there can be a major disaster so that the whole system breaks down. Such will not happen, but it is something I am a bit nervous about,” says Lars Furuholm.

At worst, the hunters will be able to access information on how many wolves are shot via Lars Furuholm’s newly established blog. It is not yet fully established, but he has it as a test for the future.

“I will try to keep it freshly updated during the hunt.”

It is authorized to shoot nine wolves in Värmland.


Länsstyrelsen väl förberedd

På lördag går startskottet för licensjakt på varg i Värmland. Lars Furuholm, rovdjursansvarig på länsstyrelsen i Värmland och en av de som ska kontrollera att det inte skjuts för många vargar, anser sig väl förberedd. Även om han är lite orolig för att tekniken ska krångla.

Varje timma måste jaktledarna ringa till en telefonsvarare på länsstyrelsen som ska informera om hur många vargar som skjutits.

– Naturligtvis kan det inträffa en stor katastrof så att hela systemet pajar. Sådant ska inte hända, men det är något jag är lite spänd inför, säger Lars Furuholm.

I värsta fall kommer jägarna att kunna nå information om hur många vargar som skjutits via Lars Furuholms nystartade blogg. Den är ännu inte helt etablerad, men han gör det som ett test inför framtiden.

– Jag ska försöka att hålla den färskt uppdaterad under jakten.

I Värmland finns det tillstånd att skjuta nio stycken vargar.

Source

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Dec 31

SE:

First licensed hunting of wolves since the 60s


Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

On Saturday the licensed hunting of wolves starts. It is the first licensed hunting since wolf protection was called for in the 60s. Thousands of wolf hunters going out in the country for a game that is different from other things they experienced. The dogs must stay home, and hunters have to track wolves themselves.

Ekot has accompanied hunter Ola Virén from Kristinehamn out in the Värmland forests.

“It’s called Loka territory, we are heading up to the core area. Here they ran a lot for a whole year, this territory has gone as far south as we go,” says Ola Virén.

We go on a forest auto road on one of the first snowy days in winter. Ola Virén are excited to see if the wolves have already been out and moved around in with the new snow. When he is not out there and tracking, he often gets reports about wolves from loggers and hunting friends .

“They say there will be eight wolves running here. But now they talk about that it was more because they had puppies this spring. There have been some different reports but the last I heard there should be around twelve or thirteen wolves running here.”

Värmland is one of the five densest wolf-populated counties, where the wolf will now be hunted. The Environmental Protection Agency decided that 27 wolves could be shot, after the scientists’ assessment of the Swedish wolf population consists of over 200 animals.

The wolf moves over large areas, therefore, tracking snow is good because you can not hunt wolves with dogs since the dog could be bitten to death. And Ola Virén believes which explains much of the angry feelings among many hunters.

“I personally might not suffer so much. But I think of those in northern Värmland. It takes away the quality of life for people there. On weekends and days off hunting, often hunting with dogs, I think wolves remove the quality of life for people like me.”

Most wolves live in the lower central Sweden, where hunting may take place between 2 January and 15 February. But the hunt could be over quickly. Approximately 12 000 hunters signed up to participate in wolf hunting.

That no more than the 27 allowed wolves will be shot, hunters will be hampered by the hunter teams having to check with the provincial government on an hourly basis.

It becomes a different kind of hunting, where hunters without a dog will track and identify the wolf. And the old tricks may come to be to used.

“Many teams reside in Dalarna bought fladry, then they should round up the wolves first, for example, on a height, then put the patch fabric around.

What does a fladry look like?

“It’s a long line of small plastic pieces hanging down. The wolf is afraid to pass it. If one has been rounded them up, they tend to usually run into the ring.

If tracking snow is not good enough, there are other tricks.

“Then you can try to attract with hare calls, it has become popular. I think this is worth it, I will do it in any case.

What do you do then?

“You sit and lure with a caller that will be the death cry of a hare, a very unpleasant sound but it works very well on other predators.


Första licensjakten på varg sedan 60-talet

På lördags startar licensjakten på varg. Den första licensjakten sedan vargen fridlystes på 60-talet. Tusentals vargjägare ska ut i markerna på en jakt som skiljer sig från annat de varit med om. Hundarna får stanna hemma, och jägarna måste spåra själva.

Ekot har följt med jägaren Ola Virén från Kristinehamn ut i Värmlandsskogarna.

– Det kallas för Lokareviret, vi är på väg upp till själva kärnområdet. Här har de sprungit mycket ett helt år, reviret har gått så långt söderut som vi åker, säger Ola Virén, säger han.

Vi åker på en skogsbilväg en av de första snödagarna i vinter. Ola Virén är spänd på att se om vargarna redan varit ute och rört på sig efter snöfallet. När han inte själv är ute och spårar får han ofta rapporter om varg från skogshuggare och jagande vänner..

– De säger att det ska vara åtta vargar som springer här. Men nu pratar de om att det var flera för de har fått valpar i våras. Det har varit lite olika bud men det sista jag hörde ska det finnas bortåt en tolv tretton vargar som springer här.

Värmland är ett av de fem vargtätaste länen, där nu varg ska få jagas. Naturvårdsverket beslöt att 27 vargar kan skjutas, efter forskarnas bedömning att den svenska vargstammen består av drygt 200 djur.

Vargen rör sig över stora områden, därför är spårsnö bra, för det går inte att jaga varg med hund, eftersom hunden kan bli ihjälbiten. Och det tror Ola Virén förklarar mycket av de upprörda känslorna bland många jägare.

– Jag personligen kanske inte lider så mycket. Men jag tänker på de i norra Värmland. Man tar bort livskvalitén för folk där uppe. På helger och lediga dagar jagar man, oftast jagar man med hund, vargarna tar bort livskvalién för folk tycker jag.

De flesta vargarna lever i nedre Mellansverige, där jakten får ske mellan 2 januari och 15 februari. Men jakten kan snabbt vara över. Cirka 12 000 jägare har registrerat sig för att delta i vargjakten.

Att inte fler än de 27 tillåtna vargarna skjuts, ska hindras genom att jaktlagen stämmer av med länsstyrelsen en gång i timmen.

Det blir en annorlunda jakt, där jägare utan hund ska spåra och ringa in vargen. Och gamla knep kan komma till bruk.

- Många lag uppe i Dalarna har köpt lapptyg, då får man ringa in vargarna först, till exempel i en höjd, sedan sätter de lapptyget runt om.

Hur ser ett lapptyg ut?

– Det är en lång lina med små plastband som hänger ned. Vargen törs inte passera förbi det. Har man ringat in dem brukar de i regel springa in i ringen.

Om inte spårsnön duger finns det andra knep.

– Då kan man prova att locka med harskrik, det har blivit populärt. Det tycker jag är värt, det kommer i alla fall jag göra.

Vad gör man då?

– Du sitter och lockar med en pipa som ska vara dödsskriket från en hare, ett väldigt obhagligt ljud men det funkar väldigt bra på andra rovdjur.

Annika Digréus

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Dec 31

MT: State seeks to wipe out troublesome wolf pack

State seeks to wipe out troublesome wolf pack

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) – A Big Hole Valley wolf pack blamed for repeated attacks and kills of livestock is on the brink of elimination.

Montana wildlife officials have approved plans to wipe out the Miner Lakes Pack. The decision was made after officials determined wolves from the packs had attacked livestock again earlier this month, the fourth time the pack has gotten into trouble.

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wolf Program Coordinator Carolyn Sime says the pack has simply not improved its behavior, despite previous attempts to alter behavior and thin its numbers.

Biologists once estimated the pack at 15 wolves. But hunters bagged three this fall, and federal trappers killed five more after the state’s first public wolf hunting season ended.

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Dec 31

MT: Wolves now firmly established, but debate still lingers

Wolves now firmly established, but debate still lingers

By EVE BYRON Independent Record

During the past decade, gray wolves in Montana evolved from the protected to the prey.

For Ed Bangs, 2009’s first-ever wolf hunting season in Montana and Idaho proved that the federal Endangered Species Act works. As one of those instrumental in their reintroduction in the Northern Rockies in 1995, Bangs viewed the season as evidence that those wolves have advanced from a species threatened with extinction due to poisoning and trapping in the early 1900s to a predator whose numbers are so abundant that they need culling through hunting, like mountain lions and black bears.

That abundance comes with a high price tag for ranchers like Kathy Konen near Dillon, who lost dozens of ewes and lambs throughout the decade due to wolves, including more than 120 mature, prized Rambouilette rams in one fell swoop last summer. The wolves in that incident killed not just to eat, but for practice, for fun or for no reason at all.

Yet to others like Louisa Willcox and Matt Skoglund with the National Resource Defense Council, the claims of wolf recovery remain premature. They believe the reintroduction of wolves in the Rocky Mountain region is a success story in that wolf numbers are back from the brink and people are now talking about how to live with wolves, not whether to live with them as was angrily debated a decade ago.

But Skogland points out that between the hunting season, natural mortality, death for livestock predation and the prevalence of the “shoot, shovel and shut up” mentality, about 40 percent of Montana’s estimated 497 wolves were killed last year.

“We think that the wolf hunt in Montana and Idaho last year was premature,” Skoglund said.

Bangs counters that while there may be only 1,645 known wolves in 95 breeding pairs now on the landscape in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, another 12,000 wolves exist just to the north in Canada, and the populations do interact.

Their wide range of perspectives represents the inherent conflicts that for the entire 20th century clouded the air when Canis lupus loped across the landscape. But Bangs, the wolf recovery specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and Willcox agree that the passions surrounding the 1995-96 reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park and Idaho have softened and it’s become more of a chronic political tussle.

“The year 2000 was when we first met the minimum recovery goal of at least 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves” in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, Bangs recalled. “What’s remarkable is that was kind of right on schedule for what we predicted.

“I remember meetings early on, with 1,500 people attending, and they weren’t allowed to bring signs, guns, knives, pet wolves or dogs into the meeting room. We had security and it was a big deal. Now people forget how polarized and angry it was. The level of emotion and personification surrounding wolves has become more civil and I think it’s healthy compared to what it used to be.”

Willcox used to park her vehicle at a distance from the meeting halls, not knowing whether she’d be able to flee quickly if necessary, when she worked for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition a decade ago.

“Before the reintroduction, it was a very hostile climate, with a huge amount of misinformation centered on tales of Little Red Riding Hood, with people saying their children would get eaten,” Willcox said. “Now, the arguments have shifted and the concern about the degree that humans will be threatened by wolves has largely disappeared.”

Wolves were removed from the list of endangered species in Montana and Idaho earlier this year — an act being challenged in federal court by about a dozen environmental groups, including Willcox’s NRDC — but remain listed in Wyoming, where the state wanted them declared predators that could be shot on site in most places.

Konen, the rancher, first felt the impacts of wolves in 1996, when the Nez Perce pack escaped from a containment area near Yellowstone and migrated to her ranch. One wolf had climbed out of the pen using its teeth, then dug underneath the fence to free its pack mates. Eventually they were darted and returned to the containment area before being released into the wild.

“Our earliest wolf kills were in 2001 or 2002, when we had seven come over in the spring right before shearing and lambing,” Konen said. “We lost 45 ewes at that time, and it was so close to lambing that we had a lot of aborted fetuses. They got in and ran them around in the pen. Every year after that, we’ve had trouble.”

They’ve always hired herders to protect the sheep from predators and recently acquired guard dogs too. Yet these days Konen’s family checks the pastures more often and experiences more sleepless nights wondering if the annual paycheck from the sale of their stock is going to be diminished.

As of Dec. 8, wolves had killed at least 353 head of livestock, including guard dogs, in 2009, a rate of more than one per day. Officials with the Montana Department of Livestock add that for every confirmed wolf kill, they believe another seven cattle, sheep or horses are killed by wolves that aren’t found immediately and are fed on by other wild animals, so those deaths are known as unconfirmed kills.

Ranchers are compensated by the government for confirmed wolf kills — more than $128,000 in 2009 — but there are other intangible costs, such as the aborted fetuses, barren wombs from stress or livestock that don’t put on as much weight as they used to.

“When you have wolf attacks, you’re always thinking about it. You raise those animals for a finished product and if you don’t have that product you don’t get paid,” Konen said. “We take good care of our animals, and it’s very painful to see them get killed by wolves.

“When they got our bucks (rams) we had to destroy about 30 to put them out of their misery because they were chewed up so bad. Their throats were bit and they were standing there dripping blood, with their rears chewed up. They were beyond repair.”

Willcox sympathizes with losses like those suffered by the Konens, and said that helping livestock producers and others is where the challenge lies for the next decade. She watched as many of the conservation organizations that pushed for the wolf reintroduction left the playing field once wolves were established on the landscape, and said they need to re-engage.

“We underestimated the nature and number of conflicts with livestock, and there are not enough people on the ground to help the ranchers deal with the conflicts in ways that don’t include just whacking wolves,” Willcox said. “We need to help ranchers do more preventative work with livestock and that will take additional resources. You can’t just put carnivores on the ground and wait for things to happen. We’ve lost opportunities and time by not creating a climate that’s more conducive to helping resolve wolf conflicts with livestock producers.

“This is one of the great conservation success stories in the West in the last several decades,” she added. “We’ve gone from near extermination of wolves to where they’re here, now, in the Northern Rockies. This is a success of our culture and of our country to reverse the sins of the past.”

Source

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Dec 30

MI UP: Dog killed by wolf

Dog killed by wolf

DNR official confirms wolf was the likely culprit.

SENEY STRETCH — A Department of Natural Resources official confirms that a dog killed near the Seney Stretch on Wednesday was likely killed by a wolf or wolves.

The dog, a 13 inch Beagle, had ventured about 40-60 yards away from its owner who was snowshoe hare-hunting, when the dog was apparently attacked.

The owner, a Munising man, didn’t see the attack, but said his dog suddenly let out a high-pitched bark. The man found the dog’s bloody carcass moments later.

Terry Minzie, the DNR’s Eastern UP Wildlife Supervisor, inspected the carcass Wednesday afternoon.

“It appears it was probably wolves,” Minzie told TV6. “You can tell by the size of the punctures of the two canine teeth. And we know that we’ve had a pack of wolves in this area for several years.”

The attack occurred about midway between Shingleton and Seney.

The grey wolf is on the U.S. List of Endangered Species.

It’s estimated that as many as 600 wolves may now live in the Upper Peninsula. Twenty years ago, there were apparently none living here.

Source

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Dec 30

MT: FWP says 2009 wolf hunt ‘a good day for Montana’

FWP says 2009 wolf hunt ‘a good day for Montana’

By PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic

HAMILTON – There weren’t any biological red flags raised during Montana’s first fair-chase wolf hunt earlier this year.

“Montana just pulled off a very successful hunt of a new species, especially given the level of scrutiny on the hunt,” Carolyn Sime, the statewide wolf coordinator for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“From every consideration, we showed the sky isn’t going to fall,” she said. “It was a good day for Montana.”

The largest wolf harvested weighed 117 pounds. The most wolves killed on any one day was 10. The oldest hunter to shoot a wolf was 70 years old. The youngest was 13.

These are just some of the facts contained in a summary on this year’s wolf hunt released Tuesday by FWP.

Overall, the historic hunt went as well as anyone could have hoped, Sime said.

Going into the season, Sime said no one really knew what to expect. Some folks said it was going to be nearly impossible to harvest wolves under a fair-chase scenario. Others worried about the potential to wipe out entire packs.

None of that happened.

The harvest was well distributed across the western portion of the state, although there were more wolves harvested in an early backcountry season in southwest Montana than expected.

Once the general hunting season opened in October, the pace of the harvest was steady. It averaged about 20 wolves per week until the statewide quota of 75 was met on Nov. 16.

Had the quotas been higher, the summary said they would likely have been filled.

The harvest did decrease individual pack size ahead of the 2010 breeding season. While one pack lost four wolves, 70 percent of the packs in Montana lost one and 20 percent lost two.

Forty-one males and 31 females were harvested in the hunt. Sixty-one percent were gray wolves; 36 percent were black, and two wolves were white. Most were healthy, although two had a slight case of mange, one had fleas, another had porcupine quills in its shoulder and two reportedly had hernias.

Most of the wolves killed were taken before noon by hunters primarily looking for elk and deer.

On average, hunters shot the wolves at 150 yards with firearms. No wolves were killed with archery equipment.

Most were harvested on public lands. Three-quarters of the harvest came from seven counties. Eleven wolves were killed in Flathead County. Hunters harvested nine wolves in three different counties, including Ravalli, Beaverhead and Park.

The state sold 15,603 licenses (15,514 residents, 89 nonresidents) at $19 apiece. The sale of the licenses raised $325,916, which was deposited into the FWP general license account. That money will be spent for future FWP programs in the next biennium after being approved by the 2011 Montana Legislature, the summary said.

About 12 percent of Montana’s resident elk hunters bought a wolf license this year based on elk license sales figures from 2007.

Sime said this isn’t the first time the state has managed a new game species. The first hunting season for mountain lions was in 1972. Before then, mountain lions were classified predators.

“Mountain lion hunting regulations have developed over the course of 30-some odd years,” she said. “In the same way, the regulations pertaining to wolves will be refined over time to both benefit the wolf and opportunity for hunters.”

Over the next couple of months, Sime and others will put together the 2009 wolf status report for the state. She expects that it will show that about 200 wolves were killed in Montana through the hunting season, control actions and other ways.

“That shouldn’t set off any alarm bells unless we see a reduction in pup numbers,” she said. “I don’t expect to see that.”

Sime will also work to put together the state’s recommendation for next year’s wolf hunt quotas. Those proposed numbers will be presented to the FWP Commission sometime this spring after other big game seasons are set.

The state is also in the process of preparing briefs for ongoing litigation challenging the federal wolf delisting that allowed Montana and Idaho to hold the wolf hunts this year.

“There is an awful lot going on at the same time,” Sime said.

Source

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Dec 29

WA: Asotin County supports wolf management changes

Asotin County supports wolf management changes

by Stephanie Smith

ASOTIN – Asotin County is sending a letter in support of the Asotin County Cattlemen Association’s effort to get the rules changed on wolf management.

At Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved sending a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife drafted by the Cattlemen Association.

The letter is in support of a wolf management plan that would lower the number of breeding pairs from 15 to eight in a given area in order to allow the hunting of wolves. Commissioner Doug Mattoon said the letter will be submitted as part of Fish and Wildlife’s request for public comment.

Monday commissioners also approved 2010 vehicle rental rates. Departments rent all county vehicles with the money going into a county fund for replacement and repairs.

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Dec 28

MN: $1,000 reward for shooters of 2 wolves

$1,000 reward for shooters of 2 wolves

The wolves, which remain federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, were killed in northern Minnesota last month.

By DOUG SMITH, Star Tribune

Federal officials are investigating the killings of two wolves found shot in northern Minnesota last month.

Both wolves were killed on or about Nov. 9. One was shot northwest of Grand Raids in the Ball Club area. The second — a radio-collared wolf that was part of a scientific study — was killed near Two Harbors. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced Monday that it was offering a $1,000 reward leading to the arrest of people who shot the wolves.

Occasional wolf killings, which periodically have occurred over the years in northern Minnesota even though wolves are federally protected, don’t come as a shock to state wildlife officials.

“It doesn’t surprise me given the almost hysteria over the number of wolves and decline in deer population,’ said Dennis Simon, Department of Natural Resources wildlife management section chief.

This fall, state conservation officers received many complaints from deer hunters who reported seeing wolves or wolf signs and believe a growing wolf population is to blame for declining deer numbers in some areas. Wildlife officials dismiss those concerns and say that while wolves obviously eat deer, other factors, including bad winter weather and recent liberal hunting regulations, are mostly responsible for deer population declines.

Wolves also have killed at least seven dogs in Minnesota in 2009, which also has heightened concern in some communities. And officials say Minnesota’s wolf population, estimated at 3,000, might be higher.

The wolf killings apparently occurred during the state’s firearms deer season, when about 500,000 hunters are in the woods.

Wolves remain federally protected under the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Wolves had been removed from federal protections in the three states in 2007, but were returned to federal control after a court decision. Killing one is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months and a $25,000 fine.

Officials say anyone with information about the Minnesota wolf killings can contact the state’s Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-652-9093 or call Special Agent Ron Kramer at the Fish & Wildlife Service in Duluth at 218-720-5357. Callers can remain anonymous

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Dec 28

MN: Reward offered in Minnesota wolf shooting cases

Reward offered in Minnesota wolf shooting cases

One wolf was shot northwest of Grand Rapids in the Ball Club area while the second was killed northwest of Two Harbors.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

The federal government is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of people who shot two wolves in northern Minnesota in November.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the wolf killings along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Leech Lake Conservation Enforcement Department.

Both wolves were killed on or around Nov. 9. One wolf was shot northwest of Grand Rapids in the Ball Club area while the second was killed northwest of Two Harbors. The wolf killed near Two Harbors had been fitted with a radio tracking collar.

Wolves remain federally protected under the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The animals had been removed from federal protections in the three states in 2007, but now are back under federal control after a recent court decision. It’s expected that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will move again to de-list wolves in 2010, but, until then, it remains illegal for anyone but a federal trapper to kill wolves, except when a life is threatened.

Under federal law, killing a wolf is a violation of the Endangered Species Act, punishable by imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of up to $25,000.

Minnesota has about 3,200 wolves while Wisconsin and Michigan each have about 500.

Contact the DNR’s TIP line at (800) 652-9093 or call Special Agent Ron Kramer at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Duluth at (218) 720-5357. Callers can remain anonymous.

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Dec 28

ID: Wolves resilient: Total number in region stable despite hunting

Wolves resilient: Total number in region stable despite hunting

By Sean Ellis

A record number of wolves were killed or died this year in the Rocky Mountain region, a development that has some environmental groups howling. Federal wolf biologists, however, estimate the overall wolf population is about the same as it was last year.

As of Dec. 31, 2008, there were an estimated 1,650 gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain region, which includes Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. When this year’s annual count is finalized — wolves in the region are officially counted once a year, at the end of the year — wolf biologists expect that number to be about the same, maybe even a little higher.

That’s despite the fact upward of 600 wolves were either killed by hunters or state predator control agencies, or died of natural or other causes in 2009, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last year’s population total of 1,650 (850 in Idaho, 500 in Montana and 300 in Wyoming) is more than five times the original recovery goal set when the animals were placed on the endangered species list.

“This year, we’ll have about the same population as last year,” says biologist Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the USFWS, the agency that reintroduced wolves in the region in the mid-1990s. “The wolf population’s doing fine.”

Based on annual numbers before this year’s first-ever wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana, an average of 26 out of every 100 wolves in the region die each year, Bangs says. Of those 26, 10 are killed illegally, 10 are killed as a result of government control actions, three are killed accidentally by people, mostly by car or train strikes, and three die from natural causes, the biggest ones being wolves killed by other wolves, and disease.

Despite those deaths, the wolf population was still growing at a rate of about 22 percent a year before this year’s hunts, Bangs adds.

USFWS estimates as many as 1,000 wolf pups were born last spring. When mortality is factored in with the other deaths, the wolf population now is estimated to be about what it was at the end of 2008, Bangs says.

He says the hunts in Idaho and Montana have not adversely affected the region’s overall wolf population. The hunts, which have been planned for years, were enabled after the region’s wolf population was removed from the endangered species list in May.

Idaho’s wolf management plan approved by the USFWS calls for managing the animals at their 2005 level of 520.

Hunters in Idaho and Montana had killed 203 wolves total in 2009 as of Dec. 21. There was no wolf hunt in Wyoming because the USFWS has not accepted that state’s wolf management plan, which the agency believes doesn’t adequately protect the wolf population there.

“It’s looking like the wolf population will be close to what it was last year and maybe even a little higher,” Bangs says. “The hunting has certainly not impacted the wolf levels at all.”

The total quota for Idaho’s wolf hunt, which ends March 31, is 220. Montana closed its hunt in November after coming within three wolves of reaching its overall quota of 75.

As of Dec. 21, 131 wolves had been killed by hunters in Idaho’s 12 wolf hunting zones. The only zone without at least one kill remains the Southern Idaho Zone, which is the state’s largest by far and stretches clear across the bottom third of the state. That zone has a total quota of 5 wolves.

Four zones have reached their quotas and have been closed.

Thirty-three wolves have been killed in the Sawtooth Zone, which has a quota of 55, the largest in the state by far. In the Panhandle Zone, which has a quota of 30, 14 wolves have been killed by hunters. Twenty wolves have been killed in the Lolo Zone, which has a harvest limit of 27.

Other zones, the number of wolves killed and the quota: Middle Fork (15 and 17), Selway (6 and 17), Salmon (4 and 16), Southern Mountains (9 and 10).

Zones that have been closed and their quotas: Dworshak-Elk City (18), McCall-Weiser (15), Upper Snake (5), Palouse-Hells Canyon (5).

The record number of dead wolves in the region, which was previously reported by the Associated Press to be 503, concerned some environmental groups, including those that have filed a lawsuit against the USFWS seeking to have wolves in the region placed back on the endangered species list.

If that happens, there will be no more wolf hunts unless the animals are delisted again.

In a Sept. 8 ruling, a federal judge in Montana refused to halt the wolf hunts, disagreeing with the environmental groups’ claim the hunts would cause long-term harm to the wolf population. However, the judge also strongly hinted the groups stood a good chance of prevailing in their broader effort to have the animals relisted.

A final ruling in that case is expected about the middle of 2010.

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