Idahoans not happy with the wolf Quotas

August 18, 2009 by  
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By Roger Phillips


Some hunters say the harvest limit set by Idaho Fish and Game commissioners Monday isn’t high enough. Environmental groups, meanwhile, think the limit is too high and may ask a judge to block hunting.

In addition to the sport harvest of 220, the Nez Perce Tribe could take 35 of Idaho’s estimated 1,000 wolves.

The group Defenders of Wildlife said in a news release Monday that it plans to seek an injunction to stop the hunt.

Wolf hunting in some parts of the state will start Sept. 1 unless Defenders of Wildlife and other environmental groups can stop it. Tags are scheduled to go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.

The Fish and Game Commission voted 4-3, with the minority favoring a larger harvest limit that would have allowed hunters to kill almost 50 percent of Idaho’s wolves.

Some commissioners were concerned that the higher limit would provoke a judge to stop the hunt, which happened last year.

“An injunction did play a role. It was a tough decision,” commission chairman Wayne Wright of Twin Falls said.

Wright was in the minority that favored the higher harvest limit of 430 wolves.

Another Fish and Game commissioner said Idaho hunters probably won’t reach the 220 limit anyway, and setting it higher would invite more outrage and legal opposition.

“We will be lucky to hit probably half the hunter harvest limits,” Commissioner Tony McDermott of Sagle said.

Fish and Game officials predict very low success rates for wolf hunters despite expecting to sell 70,000 tags. Resident tags will cost $11.75.

That’s too many dead wolves for the environmental groups that filed a lawsuit to put them back on the endangered species list.

“We believe that any level of hunting an imperiled wolf population is inappropriate,” said Jenny Harbine, attorney for Earthjustice, which represents the environmental groups that filed the lawsuit.

Harbine cited the 2008 federal court ruling that genetic exchange between individual populations of wolves throughout the region wasn’t adequate. Increased mortality under state management would limit genetic exchange, she said.

Montana already has set its quota at 75 wolves, or about 15 percent of that state’s population.

Fish and Game officials say Idaho’s wolf population is growing at about 15 to 20 percent annually. The department wants to reduce the population to about 520.

Nate Helm, Idaho president of the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, favors reducing wolf numbers nearer to the 150-animal minimum outlined in the state’s federally approved wolf management plan.

Tell O’Neal, an Idaho elk hunter who started the Web site, said it’s time to maintain a balance between wolves, elk and hunters.

“People are ready to start hunting wolves,” O’Neal said.

“I think it (wolf hunting) is inevitable, and this is the year they need to set a precedent.”


Idaho intends to manage wolf populations in 12 different zones. Each zone has its own harvest limit. When a zone limit is met, wolf hunting will stop in that zone. When the statewide harvest limit of 220 is met, all wolf hunting will stop.

  • Panhandle    30
  • Palouse-Hells Canyon   5
  • Lolo    27
  • Dworshak-Elk City    31
  • Selway   17
  • Middle Fork   17
  • Salmon   16
  • McCall-Weiser   15
  • Sawtooth   55
  • Southern Mountains   10
  • Upper Snake   5
  • South Idaho   5