December 3, 2023

Idaho Making Plans To Take Over Wolf Management

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It is not new news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to de-list the gray wolf from protection and put its management into the hands of the Idaho and Montana fish and game departments. Wyoming is still tied up in lawsuits with USFWS over an approved wolf management plan.

Back to Idaho for a moment. I’m confused, yeah, I know, again. This morning I was reading an article in the Billings Gazette from the Associated Press about Idaho’s plans to move forward with wolf management. If all goes well, the USFWS will hand controls over to the Idaho Fish and Game next year. What I am confused about is what I read.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are crafting their strategy for wolf management in the state after the announcement last week that the federal government will begin removing protections from the state’s gray wolves.

The department plans to survey elk and deer hunters to determine how many saw wolves while hunting, and where the animals were spotted.

The results, and other research by the department, will help determine where wolves can be hunted and what kind of options hunters will have, including special draws for a limited number of hunting tags in some areas and general hunts in others.

“We’ll be looking at where we want stable wolf populations and where we want to moderate wolf populations and where we might want to have no wolves or few wolves,” said Steve Nadeau, large carnivore coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Boise.

Shouldn’t the state fish and game people have already known most of this information? If the USFWS is going to allow them to take over the control, they have to believe that Idaho had a good, scientifically based wolf management plan, one that I would have assumed included plans for hunting. If the plan called for hunting wolves as a management tool, wouldn’t one also assume that the state would have already determined desired population densities, where those populations were to be, etc., etc.?

Evidently not! I find this puzzling.

Tom Remington