Unless legal efforts by wolf advocates to halt the hunt succeed in a federal appeals court-efforts regarded by most knowledgeable observers as a Hail Mary pass-hunters will take to the field under more liberal rules than they did in the first regulated hunt. That hunt ran from the fall of 2009 through March 31 of 2010.
There was no wolf hunt in the fall of 2010 after wolves were relisted as endangered in a federal district court decision. They were taken off the list again in a measure sponsored by congressional delegates from Idaho and Montana. It is that act of Congress under challenge in higher federal courts.
Initial enthusiasm for hunting wolves led to the sale of tags to more than 31,000 residents and nonresidents in 2009-2010. Wolf hunters reported taking 188 animals in that season, short of the 220 statewide harvest limit.
For the hunt beginning in 2011, no overall harvest limit has been set. Tag sales may not be directly indicative of the number of hunters because hunters are allowed to purchase two tags for the season. Rather than being required to report a kill within 24 hours, as was the rule in the first season, hunters have 72 hours to report and 10 days to complete the mandatory check with Fish and Game. As is the rule for mountain lions and bear, hunters must present the wolf head and pelt to Fish and Game; they are not required to bring out the rest of the carcass.
In five of the 12 wolf hunt zones where hunting proved most effective in the first season, harvest limits have been set. Harvest limits have not been set for the other zones. The season ends December 31 in the Beaverhead and Island Park zones where snowmobiling activity is heavy.
At this writing, tag prices remain at $11.50 for resident hunters and have been reduced to $31.75 for nonresidents. (Nonresident tags cost $186. in the first hunt.) See Idaho Fish and Game for current prices or other possible updates.
Trapping has been approved as a method of take for the first time in five zones. Trappers will be able to buy three tags in addition to the two hunting tags. Trappers should consult Fish and Game rules for details. A trapping education course is mandatory before trapping tags are purchased. Call Idaho Fish and Game Headquarters in Boise, Idaho for questions: 208-334-3700.
Harvest and population numbers will be tracked closely by Fish and Game biologists and reported to the Commission.
Biologists estimated an Idaho gray wolf population of more than 1,000 before this year's pups were born.
Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez