The 2011 annual summary of wolf monitoring in Idaho is now available, and it shows wolf numbers are down for the second consecutive year.
The 2011 Idaho Wolf Monitoring Progress Report includes the current status of the wolf population in Idaho.
Biologists documented 101 Idaho wolf packs at the end of 2011. The population at the end of 2011 was estimated at 746 wolves, down from a high of 856 at the end of 2009. At the end of 2010, the population estimate was 777 wolves. The 2010 annual report was compiled by the Nez Perce Tribe.
"Thanks to Idaho's hunters and trappers, we've made good progress in getting the wolf population under control and into better balance with prey species, such as elk, but we've still got a ways to go," said Jim Unsworth, Idaho Fish and Game deputy director.
In addition, 24 documented border packs were counted for Montana, Wyoming and Washington that established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary and spent some time in Idaho.
Of the 63 packs known to have reproduced, 40 packs qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year.
In Idaho, wolf packs ranged from the Canadian border south to Interstate 84, and from the Washington and Oregon borders east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves were occasionally reported in previously unoccupied areas.
Ten previously unknown packs were documented during 2011, but the overall net increase was only six packs in the state, with four other packs removed during the year.
"We'll continue to work in conjunction with the Nez Perce Tribe to monitor wolves to ensure Idaho's wolf population stays above recovery levels," said Jeff Gould, Fish and Game wildlife bureau chief. "Meeting federal obligations for documenting wolf abundance and distribution during the five-year post-delisting period is expensive and labor intensive. It is critically important the state continue to receive adequate federal funding for meeting Endangered Species Act requirements during the post-delisting period."
Biologists confirmed the deaths of 296 wolves in Idaho during 2011. Of known wolf mortalities, hunter and trapper harvest accounted for 200 deaths, and agency control and legal landowner take in response to wolf-livestock depredation accounted for 63 deaths.
Eighteen wolf deaths were attributed to other human causes, including illegal take. The cause of 12 wolf mortalities could not be determined and were listed as unknown, and three wolves died of natural causes.
Also in 2011, 71 cattle, 121 sheep, three horses, six dogs and two domestic bison were confirmed as wolf kills. Nineteen cattle, 26 sheep, one horse and one dog were considered probable wolf kills.
The Idaho progress report is available online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/wolves/.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Rocky Mountain progress report, which includes reports from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, is available at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/, in the left-hand column.
In addition, since the beginning of this year, 145 wolves were taken by hunters and trappers, 14 were taken in a Lolo Zone aerial control action, nine were taken in other Wildlife Service control actions around the state and one died of parvovirus. That makes an additional 169 dead so far in 2012.