Wolf News Roundup 2/23/2020
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
February 23, 2020
The Idaho Department of Fish & Game Commission has approved nine proposed modifications to wolf hunting and trapping seasons that extend wolf hunting opportunities, open more areas to wolf trapping and extend trapping seasons. Commissioners took action after accepting public comment on the proposals.
Fish and Game biologists recently released a new statewide wolf population estimate based on remote camera surveys and other monitoring efforts. The estimate indicates Idaho’s wolf population remains robust through fluctuations of births and mortality over the year with an estimated peak of 1,541 wolves during summer 2019 after the annual birth cycle and about 1,000 wolves at the end of the year.
The Commission has incrementally and consistently increased wolf hunting and trapping seasons for more than a decade in response to livestock depredations and impacts to other big game species. But the 2019 estimate showed the wolf population remains well above the federal recovery criteria of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide.
Wolf predation on livestock and other domestic animals remains chronic in certain areas and would increase if the wolf population expands into southern Idaho. Wolf predation also continues to have a negative effect on elk populations in some backcountry areas.
During the 14-day public comment period, Fish and Game received comments from 27,076 people about the hunting and trapping proposals, of which 5,675 were from Idaho residents. The percentage of support/opposition was fairly consistent throughout the nine individual proposals.
Among Idaho residents who commented, about 55 percent supported each of the proposals, and about 45 percent opposed.
When all 27,076 comments were tallied, between 15 and 16 percent (depending on the proposal) supported them, and 84 to 85 percent opposed, with the majority of responses coming from outside of Idaho and many coming from outside of the U.S.
The wolf advocacy groups pushing the ballot initiative to transplant wolves into Colorado have vastly higher contributions to their campaign than the groups opposed to the effort. According to an article by Post Independent reporter Thomas Phippen, the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Action Fund spent $1.3 million getting the measure on the ballot, and the newly formed group Coloradans Protecting Wildlife raised just $10,000 in 2019. But Safari Club International will use another $140,000 to work with Coloradans Protecting Wildlife.
According to the Phippen article, the pro-wolf group received more than $333,000 from the Tides Center, more than $230,000 from Defenders of Wildlife, and more than $122,000 from author Timothy Ferriss.
In Minnesota, where wolves are federally protected, state officials have paid out an average of $135,000 annually for confirmed wolf depredations on livestock in the last decade.
Check out the links below for details on these stories.