Advice and Caveats On Those New Wolf Hunts In Idaho And Montana


Published: September - 2009

The first regulated big game seasons for gray wolf hunts in the US Northern Rockies are set to open in Idaho and Montana. But the chances for a hunter, especially a nonresident, to take a wolf will probably be limited. First, some brief history to help explain why.

Hunting was always intended to be part of the plan for reintroducing the gray wolf into the Northern Rockies back in 1995; and by 2008 the population objectives for full recovery of the species had been achieved. So, the wolf could be removed from the Endangered Species list and management turned over from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. In early 2008, Wyoming began taking wolves it classified as "predators," rather than big game, triggering lawsuits by animal rights groups and returning the wolf to the control of the federal government. This year, though, the gray wolf management plans of Idaho and Montana, which included hunting seasons and the classification of the wolf as "big game," were approved by the USFWS and a federal court; and now those states intend to begin wolf hunting. (Wyoming's plan - which still includes a predator component that would allow wolves to be taken in certain areas of the state at almost any time, by almost any means, without a license or permit - has been rejected.)

At a bare minimum, more than 1,500 wolves are now at large in the Northern Rockies (with some figures venturing 1,500 in Idaho alone), and the impact they are having on big game prey species, especially elk, is a matter of extreme controversy. (One report I heard is that a real estate agent in Salmon, Idaho, has listings for at least eight hunting outfits for sale, the guide-outfitters driven out of business by the low numbers of elk, for which wolf predation is widely blamed.) If only for these reasons, wolf hunting would seem not just desirable but necessary. Montana has now set a quota of 75 wolves for this first season, while Idaho has placed its number at 220. How........(continued)

 
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