12 Mar 2008, 12:55pm
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Idaho wolf management plan approved

If wolves are delisted as expected on March 28, F&G would set hunting seasons in May.

BY ROGER PHILLIPS, Idaho Statesman

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners unanimously approved a five-year management plan for wolves that calls for fall hunts and maintaining anywhere from 512 to 732 wolves throughout the state, but they will wait until May to approve hunting season details.

The commissioners came to those numbers because they want to maintain between the number of wolves counted in 2005 (512) and 2007 (732).

The wolf management plan provides an overview of population goals and outlines ways to meet population objectives but does not set specific seasons or hunting rules.

The plan is the first for the agency, which will assume control of wolves March 28 unless lawsuits stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from removing wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.

F&G Chairman Cam Wheeler of Ririe said he is confident wolves will be delisted and added that developing the management plan was “probably the most emotional and controversial issue to ever face the department.”

Aside from population goals, the plan calls for a long-term viable wolf population with crossover between neighboring states, and at least 15 to 20 breeding pairs.

The plan also calls for a balance between wolf populations and prey populations, mainly elk and deer. This means more wolves could be killed in areas where elk and deer populations aren’t meeting F&G goals. … [more]

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