Idaho Fish and Game is ending this year's agency action to reduce the wolf predation on elk in the Middle Fork Salmon area of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Fish and Game has removed 9 wolves since the action began in December, with no wolves taken in the past two weeks.
Fish and Game's action is part of a larger strategy to help elk recovery in the backcountry. Elk cows and calves in the area have been vulnerable to predation, and the Middle Fork herd has declined significantly in recent years - down 43 percent since 2002. The number of elk calves surviving is too low to replace the adults dying each year, and the herd is continuing to decline. In addition to reducing wolf predation, Fish and Game offers extra tags for black bears and mountain lions - other predators affecting the Middle Fork elk population.
It will take a few days to complete the collection of equipment and transport of Fish and Game personnel out of the area.
This action generated strong responses from people with wide ranging values. "We remain committed to working with Idahoans to ensure that both wolves and healthy elk populations remain part of the wilderness," Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. "This action was an important step toward achieving our goal of stabilizing the Middle Fork elk population."
In early February, Fish and Game will post on its website a predation management plan that outlines all future efforts being considered to restore the Middle Fork elk population. The plan is consistent with the Fish and Game Commission policy on predation management, which is the basis for ongoing efforts in other backcountry areas.
More information about the decline of the Middle Fork elk population can be found on page 100 of Fish and Game's new 10-year Elk Management Plan. A copy of the plan is posted on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/?getpage=324.