SPOKANE, Wash. – Idaho wildlife officials will allow trapping and the use of electronic calls in this year’s wolf hunt.
Members of Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission said Wednesday night they hope the measures will help reduce the state’s wolf population, The Spokesman-Review reported. The decision comes the same week that Montana more than doubled its quota for this year’s wolf hunt.
Idaho’s population is estimated at a minimum of 835 wolves, while Montana had at least 524 wolves at the end of last year.
Hunting seasons in both states could be halted by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy. He is expected to make a ruling in a lawsuit seeking to restore Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the two states.
The commission will set quotas for Idaho’s fall wolf hunt in August.
Advocates for public wolf hunts hailed the states’ decisions, although some said they would still like to see stronger action. Some hunters say they’ve seen fewer elk since wolves were reintroduced.
“We just need to get rid of some of these wolves, so that people who want to put an elk in the freezer can get one,” said Rick Huddleston, of St. Maries.
But opponents of hunting wolves said Idaho’s changes are going too far.
“We’re taking them down to numbers where they aren’t able to do the job they’re meant to do in nature,” said Nancy Taylor, a member of the North Idaho Wolf Alliance, noting that predators help keep ecosystems in balance.
Fish and Game Commissioner Randy Budget says that of Idaho’s 29 elk management units, six have elk numbers that are below population targets, 13 meet population targets and 10 are above target.
Jon Rachael, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state wildlife manager, says some of the elk herds in the state were in a slow and steady decline before wolves were reintroduced, and that the new predator has speeded up that decline.
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