As big game hunters take to the woods, they are reminded that they are not alone at the top of the food chain.
Each year, Idaho Fish and Game receives reports of wolves being attracted to hunters as they call elk, wolves visiting hunting camps, and large predators eating carcasses that were not properly hung.
Steve Nadeau, in charge of large carnivore programs for Idaho Fish and Game, said hunters need to remain aware that hunting increases the chance of running into or attracting wolves and other carnivores.
Carcasses and gut piles attract bears, lions, and wolves and should be treated carefully to avoid problems such as losing game meat. The rule of thumb is to try to get the carcass out of the woods the same day it is killed. If the carcass remains overnight, it helps to place the gut pile on a tarp and drag it away from the carcass. If that is not possible, hang meat 10 feet off the ground. Hunters should leave clothes, human scent, tarps, or other items to deter carnivores from scavenging meat.
When returning to the kill, hunters should approach the carcass carefully and view it safely from a distance, Nadeau said. Carnivores, especially bears, may be close by and might attempt to defend the carcass. Some bears, wolves, coyotes and other scavengers may venture into campsites if they smell meat or other foods. Place game poles downwind of camps and make sure the meat is secured 10 feet off the ground and three feet from a tree. Bears and wolves may eat carcasses hung within reach.
Wolves are protected under the endangered species act and killing one illegally is a federal offense.
For more information on the current status of wolves in Idaho, see the new Fish and Game wolf web page. The new web page includes information on the lawsuit and injunction that caused wolves to be temporarily relisted under the Endangered Species Act. It also has updated information on the new 10j rule under which Idaho Fish and Game is currently acting as the "designated agent" for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and conducting day-to-day wolf management. What individuals may and may not do is discussed at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.
Hunters and other people who have dogs should be aware that wolves may attack and injure dogs. It often helps to keep dogs in kennels or inside buildings at night and to not let them roam freely when humans are not around. When fresh wolf sign is found, owners should place dogs on restraints and keep them supervised.
The 10j rule allows individuals to harass or kill a wolf attacking or molesting their livestock and stock animals, including pets. Those who have concerns or problems with wolves close to residences are asked to inform the nearest Fish and Game Office.
The public can help Fish and Game manage wolves by reporting wolf sightings on the observation form found at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/wolf_report/.