By JESSICA ROBINSON
Wolf hunting ended Saturday in most of Idaho. Hunters have bagged 372 animals since the season began in August, cutting the state’s estimated wolf population roughly in half, according to the latest count. Idaho Fish and Game officials are pleased, while wolf advocates find the high total worrisome.
There was high interest in this year’s hunt. Idahoans and out-of-staters purchased more than 43,000 wolf tags. The individual success rate wasn’t great. But overall, Idaho wildlife manager Jon Rachael says the hunt met the state’s goals.
“We’re pretty pleased with the progress hunters and trappers made,” he says. “The intention was to reduce the wolf population and results of this year’s harvest season suggest we are moving in that direction.”
Idaho didn’t put a season limit on wolves killed except in select parts of the state. Conservationists worry about the effects of losing nearly 400 wolves to hunting.
“That’s a lot of wolves to lose in one season,” says Suzanne Stone. She’s with the group Defenders of Wildlife.
“It’s very clear, becoming increasingly clear that Idaho’s going to just simply reduce wolf numbers down to the very bare bones. You can’t manage a species down to a few hundred and expect it to be ecologically functional.”
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently decided to expand wolf hunting in the next season, starting this fall.
Trapping will be allowed in more areas. And in the north, hunters will be allowed to take up to five wolves each.