Plenty of Wolves Says Idaho F&G Director

Director Idaho Fish and Game

It’s important for state agencies to understand and respect differing points of view. But when a few advocacy groups try to grab headlines by skewing Idaho Fish and Game scientific wolf monitoring data in ways that simply aren’t true, it’s also important to set the record straight.

Here are the facts:

Idaho has more than 100 documented wolf packs and over 600 wolves. Idaho’s wolf population far exceeds federal recovery levels of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves.
After meeting federal recovery levels in 2002, Idaho’s wolf population grew largely unchecked for the remainder of the decade, resulting in increased conflicts with other big game populations and livestock.

After 4 harvest seasons since the 2011 delisting, livestock depredations have declined. Wolf predation continues to have unacceptable impacts to some elk populations, but there are signs elk populations are responding positively to wolf management.

Wolves in Idaho continue to be prolific and resilient. Idaho will keep managing wolves to have a sustainable, delisted population and to reduce conflicts with people, livestock, and other big game populations.

Despite these facts, a few advocacy groups chose to take the breeding pair metric out of context to make claims that Idaho wolves are “teetering on the brink of endangered status once again.” That’s hogwash. And it’s the kind of polarizing misinformation that undermines responsible wildlife conservation and management in Idaho.

Confirming a pack meets U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s narrow definition of a “breeding pair” is costly and labor-intensive. With vast reductions in federal funding to the state and Nez Perce Tribe for wolf monitoring, Fish and Game has focused our effort on demonstrating Idaho has at least 15 “breeding pairs” to comply with federal recovery requirements.

Idaho closely surveyed 30 packs and confirmed that 22 of them met the breeding pair standard at the end of 2014. Because Idaho has shown it is well above federal recovery levels, we may rely on less intensive monitoring for the other 70 + packs as we complete our final 2014 population estimates. One can assume these 70+ packs include some additional breeding pairs. We will publish our annual monitoring report in March.

As trained scientists, Idaho Fish and Game stands by our data and our wildlife management plans. We manage wolves to ensure we keep state management authority and address conflicts with people, livestock, and other big game populations.

I hope people who truly care about wildlife conservation ignore the exaggerations and misinformation and help Fish and Game focus on the real issues affecting Idaho’s wildlife.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The State makes lots of money off of hunting and related, as do guides and retailers etc. There is also lots of funny business which pressures State policy. For example, auto insurance companies lobby for low deer populations to reduce claims.

    There’s some interesting evidence of wolves keeping grazing near water and the low-lands to a minimum resulting in unforeseen improvements to these areas.

    I believe in State management with the feds only looking on with minimal power. It’s also time to start mowing down some of these trees before the die and burn. However, the Gov has been in office so long that he thinks raising taxes is the way to fix problems… So do it with the money you got now.

    The hunting fees and rules are getting too thick!

  2. The planet somehow managed to regulate itself before humans took charge and created a situation where species are going extinct at a terrible rate. Thinking we need to regulate the population of humans. The ecosystem needs wolves, humans not so much.

  3. Rod+in+SE+Boise
    Jan 30, 2015, 12:39 pm

    If people thinking wolves need protection is “hogwash”, then claims of wolf predation on livestock are likely also overstated and thus also qualify as “hogwash”.

    Wolves and elk can manage themselves pretty well, I think. They were here before un-necessary sheep and cows were introduced.

    The recent blizzard in the northeast demonstrated that the overpopulation of humans in that area needs to be managed.

  4. Mr. Moore:

    Thank you for your thoughts. The human effect on Earth is not reversible, so we need good human management of our environment, including wildlife.

  5. JJ,

    Earth is but a speck of dust.

    Humans will come and go in just a speck of time on Earth overall timeline.

    We are very fragile and weak. It won’t take much to rub us out. I don’t fear for the Earth long-term. Further, Earth will likely be radically changed or destroyed by the natural forces of the universe sooner or later.

    Ever read about the origins of our Moon? Humans would not live through an event like that… and that kind of even is fairly common.

    Relax, drink up, enjoy a girlfriend, don’t think too hard.

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