Idaho Fish and Game has submitted a proposal to kill at least 40 to 50 wolves in the Lolo elk management zone in northern Idaho.
Fish and Game is seeking authority from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act to reduce wolf numbers in response to their effects on elk herds in the Lolo zone.
The 37 page proposal lays out big game management objectives and data that show game numbers are below objective. It also presents data that show wolves are now the major reason elk numbers continue to decline. The proposal explains why wolf removal would help restore the big game population.
Fish and Game proposes to manage wolf numbers in the Lolo zone at least at 20 to 30 wolves for five years. To reach this level would require killing a minimum of 40 to 50 wolves initially and killing fewer wolves in subsequent years. The numbers would depend on wolf abundance. Research on wolves has shown that reducing the population by 50 to 80 percent each year may be required to stabilize or reduce a population.
Elk and wolf populations would be monitored throughout the project with radio-telemetry, aerial counts and ground observations.
The proposal also explains efforts to reduce other major causes of big game population declines.
Section 10(j) allows states increased management flexibility to deal with wolf depredation on domestic livestock and "unacceptable impacts" on big game. The submitted proposal is a near-term measure consistent with the 10(j) rule to relieve such impacts on elk herds in the Lolo zone.
The proposal has been submitted for peer review and public comments. The public comment period has closed.
The text of the proposal is available on the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.