Friday, March 9, 2012

Idaho wolf numbers drop again

296 wolves killed in 2011

Express Staff Writer

Idaho wolf numbers have dropped for the second year in a row.

According to a 2011 annual summary of wolf monitoring conducted by the Nez Perce Tribe and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the wolf population is estimated at 746 animals in 101 packs statewide. That's down from 777 wolves at the end of 2010 and down from an estimated peak of 856 wolves at the end of 2009.

"Thanks to Idaho's hunters and trappers, we've made good progress in getting the wolf population under control," Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said in a news release Wednesday. "But we've still got a ways to go."

Though the number of wolves has decreased, the report states that the number of packs has increased steadily since reintroduction. In 2009, there were only 94 packs in Idaho. Roughly 40 of the current 101 Idaho packs are believed to contain "breeding pairs," or pairs of wolves that produce two or more pups in any given year that survive through Dec. 31.

Fish and Game biologists confirmed the deaths of 296 wolves in 2011, 200 of which were legally killed by hunters and trappers. Control actions took 63 wolves, and 18 wolves were killed illegally. The causes of the remaining 12 wolf deaths were unconfirmed, the department stated in a news release.

According to the report, wolves killed 71 cattle and 121 sheep in 2011. The deaths of 19 cattle and 26 sheep were considered "probable" wolf kills during the year.

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