Idaho Estimated Wolf Population At 1,000

The director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says there are an estimated 1,000 wolves in the Gem State.  Ed Schriever told the House Resources and Conservation Committee last week that the estimate is the first wolf population estimate in Idaho since 2015.  Schriever said the wolf population peaked early in the summer of 2019 at about 1,500 following the birth of pups.  He said subtracting hunting and trapping kills along with other deaths puts the population now closer to 1,000.

 

Schriever said the estimate is based on about 13 million photos from nearly 700 remote cameras combined with known wolf mortality numbers.  Computer software is needed to sort through the photos and count wolves, he said.

 

“This is expensive, and it’s time-consuming for staff to get the cameras out and retrieve the cameras and analyze the data,” he said. “But we think it’s really important. It’s really important in demonstrating to the public our ability to manage this population through time.”

 

Fish and Game took over management of wolves from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 when wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List. But the state had a five-year requirement to track of wolf populations, which it did using radio collars. The agency stopped tracking wolf numbers after the five-year population estimate requirement ended.

 

But without solid numbers, the agency was open to criticism from those who thought wolf numbers were skyrocketing and others who thought they were crashing.

 

“It’s more important from the people side of the management of an animal that is very controversial because, without a number that you can track over time, people just speculate based on their belief window,” Shriever recently said.

 

He said the Fish and Game Commission has been expanding hunting and trapping seasons, noting in particular extending the trapping season a month earlier to October 10, allowing foothold traps to be more effective because of less snow and freezing to the ground.  Schriever said that led to 138 wolves being trapped last fall compared with the previous average trapping harvest of 55.

 

 

 

 

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