Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wolf-hunting season to be set next week

Commission will convene July 28


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Hunters will finally get answers to how the wolf season will play out when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission sets the season on gray wolves next week.

The commission will convene for its quarterly meeting on Thursday, July 28, at the department's regional office in Salmon with the goal of setting seasons for gray wolves as well as for sandhill cranes and fall chinook salmon.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game released a proposal for the state's second wolf season last week, a season with rules that were less restrictive than the state's 2009 season.

According to the proposal, the rules for the upcoming season could be much looser, allowing hunters to have a more significant role in managing wolf populations.

There would be a limit of 25 wolves killed in the Southern Mountains Zone, which encompasses Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley, as well as the Sawtooth and Salmon zones just to the west and north. Most other Idaho zones do not have quotas.

Hunters would be allowed to buy two wolf tags per calendar year, and electronic calls, prohibited during the 2009 season, would be allowed to lure wolves.

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The department opened the proposal for public comment on its website last week and also began conducting a survey of hunters and members of the general public. The survey and the proposal are both available on the department's website, http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Department spokesman Niels Nokkentved said the department has received survey responses, but he didn't yet know what the general public sentiment was.

"Some results have come in, but no one has tabulated it yet, so we don't really have any results," he said.

Wolf advocates protested the looser rules when the proposal was released, saying it could decimate the wolf population.

"I find it really aggressive, the management suggestions that they're making," said Garrick Dutcher, spokesman for Ketchum-based advocacy group Living With Wolves.

Wolf numbers in Idaho have fallen from 835 in 2009 to 705 at the end of 2010, though the department states in its proposal that Idaho is home to "over 1,000" wolves.

The commission will review public comment at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, July 28, before setting rules and seasons.

A full agenda is available at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/about/commission/11agenda/july.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

Wolf-season details

For Katherine Wutz's story on the rules proposed for the 2011-12 wolf season, search "State wants looser rules for wolf hunt" on our website, www.mtexpress.com.




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