Friday, December 30, 2011

Wolves endure protection roller coaster

Depredations, hoaxes characterize another tumultuous year

Express Staff Writer

For the moment, wolves in the Northern Rockies—as well as in the western Great Lakes area, which were removed from federal protection this month—remain under state management. Photo courtesy Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride this year, bouncing back and forth from federal protection to state management.

While lawmakers hashed out species' status, Idaho prepared for and began to carry out a statewide public hunt as falsely identified photos of "giant" wolves and "super packs" circulated on the Internet.

Species status

At the beginning of the year, gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were protected by the Endangered Species Act due to an August 2010 decision by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy. But wolves were removed from protection in April when Congress approved a rider to the fiscal 2011 federal appropriations bill that ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reissue a rule published in 2009 that delisted wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of three other states.

This vote made history, as it marked the first time that Congress had removed a species from the list.

The rider came under fire from conservationists, who filed several lawsuits arguing that the budget rider violated the separation of powers by overturning a judicial decision and protecting the rider itself from further judicial review.

For the moment, wolves in the Northern Rockies—as well as in the western Great Lakes area, which were removed from federal protection this month—remain under state management.


Public hunt

Removal of gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection opened the door for Idaho's second state-sanctioned public wolf hunt in late August. In contrast to the previous season in 2009-10, hunters were allowed to use electronic wolf calls and leghold traps, provided they also had a trapping license.

A proposal from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game stated that the reason for the season's looser rules was that fewer than 1 percent of hunters who bought an Idaho wolf tag in 2009 were successful.

According to a report from the department, a total of 145 wolves had been killed by hunters as of Nov. 30, 17 of them in the Southern Mountains Zone, which encompasses Ketchum, Hailey, Sun Valley and Bellevue. The report also states that 238 wolves were killed statewide throughout 2011, nine of them illegally and 13 of unknown causes.


Three wolves were killed by federal Wildlife Services at the Flat Top Ranch near Carey in September, in response to a series of reported depredations. Rancher John Peavey said the wolves had attacked and killed one of his calves, a report confirmed by federal agents.

The wolves were part of the Bell Mountain pack, the alpha of which was killed by a hunter near Carey in November. The female wolf had escaped three kill orders and was well known by wolf advocates and trackers in the area.


A prominent hunting picture that turned out to be falsely identified surfaced in early November and depicted a hunter holding up a wolf that reportedly weighed 230 pounds and had been shot in Sun Valley.

According to Todd Grimm, spokesman for Idaho Wildlife Services, the picture has been circulating since 2009 and was likely taken in Alberta. The wolf, Grimm said, likely weighed only 135 pounds.

Katherine Wutz:

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.