During a conference call on Thursday, June 17, Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners amended current wolf trapping and hunting seasons in response to recent legislative direction.
The amended seasons take effect on July 1, consistent with the effective date of Senate Bill 1211. Changes will not be reflected in the current printed 2021 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure, but an updated brochure with the changes will be available on Fish and Game’s website by July 1.
Senate Bill 1211 established a year-round trapping season for wolves on private property, allowed for unlimited purchase of wolf tags, and allowed for any method used for taking any wild canine in Idaho (foxes, coyotes) to also be available for taking wolves.
Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said the Commission’s action provides a “meaningful balance” that focuses on providing hunters and trappers with additional tools to address conflicts between wolves, livestock and other big game. It also focuses the new management tools in the right places, and at the right times.
On public land, in 43 hunting units where elk are below population objectives, or where there are histories of chronic livestock depredation, the Commission established seasons with expanded hunting methods from Nov. 15 to March 31. All other wolf hunting and trapping seasons on public land remain unchanged.
On private land, foothold trapping and expanded hunting methods are allowed year round with landowner permission. Wolf snaring seasons already in place on private land remain unchanged.
“It’s been widely, but inaccurately, reported that the new law will reduce Idaho’s wolf population by 90 percent, however, the Commission’s action will reduce wolf conflicts while maintaining a viable wolf population that is not subject to relisting under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Schriever said.
Expanded hunting methods
Methods outlined in SB 1211 include those currently legal for taking other wild canines, but closed for taking other big game species, including:
- Weapon restrictions (for hunting big game) do not apply for wolf hunting.
- Exemption from shooting hours and allowance for spotlight or night vision equipment. Written permission from the landowner is required on private land, and a permit from the Director of Fish and Game is required on public land, which is consistent with requirements for spotlighting coyotes at night.
- Hunting wolves over bait is allowed on private land with landowner permission.
- Motorized vehicle restrictions for hunting big game do not apply for wolf hunting.
- Dogs may be used to pursue wolves, and no hound hunter permit is required.
Changes to wolf hunting
Wolf hunting seasons on public land remain unchanged, except expanded hunting methods apply from Nov. 15 through March 31 in areas with a history of chronic livestock depredation, or where elk herds are below management objectives, including units 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A, 12, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19, 20, 20A, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 32A, 33, 34, 35, 36, 36A, 36B, 37, 39, 43, 44, 49, 50,62, 64, 65, 67.
On private land, expanded hunting methods are allowed year round with landowner permission.