The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is proposing seven extensions of the 2020 wolf hunting seasons and two proposed changes to open more areas to wolf trapping and extend trapping seasons. Public can see the proposals and comment at Fish and Game's public comment webpage. Deadline to comment is Feb. 10.
Fish and Game biologists recently published a new statewide wolf population estimate based on an improved model incorporating remote camera surveys and other monitoring efforts. The estimate indicates Idaho’s wolf population remains robust through fluctuations of births and mortality over the year — an estimated peak of 1,541 wolves in summer 2019 after the annual birth cycle.
Since the federal government lifted Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in 2011, the Fish and Game Commission has expanded wolf seasons incrementally in response to increases in depredations on livestock and predation on other big game species.
Despite the Commission's systematic progression of wolf hunting and trapping seasons, the 2019 wolf population estimate is still at levels well above federal recovery criteria of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide.
With current hunting and trapping seasons and agency control actions, wolf predation on livestock and other domestic animals remains persistent in certain areas and would occur if the wolf population expanded into southern Idaho. Wolf predation also continues to have a negative effect on elk populations in some backcountry areas.
After the public comment period, Commission may choose to adopt changes to seasons so they take effect immediately for hunting and trapping seasons through June 2021.