Idaho extends wolf hunt
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has extended the state’s first wolf hunt for three more months into 2010—unlike Montana, which ended its inaugural wolf hunt on Nov. 16 as scheduled.
Idaho’s wolf hunt season originally was set to end on Dec. 31, but only about 115 out of 220 wolves allowed to be killed had been bagged by hunters when the commission decided on Nov. 19 to extend the season.
Montana hunters killed 72 out of a statewide quota of 75. More than 16,500 wolf hunts were sold, generating $325,859.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Idaho and Montana gray wolves from the Endangered Species List in May, providing the opportunity for those two states to schedule wolf hunts.
Meanwhile, Washington continues to formulate a wolf management plan following 12 public statewide meetings attended by 1,160 people. Two breeding packs have been documented there. Comments may be submitted until Jan. 8.
In Idaho zones where hunters haven’t filled wolf quotas, the hunt now extends to March 31 or until wolf harvest limits are reached, whichever comes first, giving more time to hunt wolves on snow, which may make spotting the predators easier.
Hunters will need 2010 wolf tags in addition to 2010 hunting licenses for hunts extended into the new year. They are required by state to report wolf kills within 24 hours and present hides and skulls to Fish and Game conservation officers or regional offices within five days.
Environmentalists argue this could allow more pregnant wolves to be killed because Northern Rockies wolves generally give birth to pups in mid-April. Each pregnant wolf can carry five to eight pups.
Thirteen conservation groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court to end wolf hunts and put the carnivores back on an Endangered Species List. Federal Judge Donald Molloy in Montana is expected to decide that case no later than the middle of next year. On Sept. 8, he refused to block the hunts in Idaho and Montana. — Mark Mendiola, WLJ correspondent