Wolf season is a go!
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 22, adopted the first regulated hunting season on gray wolves in the state's history
The commission, during its May meeting, set a wolf population goal of 518 wolves, and adopted hunting seasons, limits and rules for the 2008 hunting season.
The season would be open from September 15 in the backcountry and from October 1 in all remaining areas and run through December 31. The commission would review results in November to consider extending the season if limits are not being met.
A hunter can kill one wolf with a valid 2008 hunting license and wolf tag.
"I think we made history today," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "We must manage this species; they are well beyond recovered."
The wolf hunt rules are based on the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan, approved by commissioners in an early March meeting. The gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains was removed from the endangered species list in late March. The plan calls for managing wolves at a population level of between 2005-2007 levels (518-732) wolves for the first five years following delisting.
The estimated population at the end of 2007 was 732 wolves, with an estimated 20 to 30 percent annual growth rate. Adding this years expected pups, that number would be more than 1,000 wolves before hunting season would start.
Commissioners adopted a wolf population goal of the level from 2005, which was about 518 wolves.
Fish and Game rules call for a total statewide mortality limit, including harvest from the Nez Perce Tribe, of about 428 wolves in 2008, which includes all reported wolf kills - from natural causes, accidents, wolf predation control actions and hunter kills. If the limit is reached it would result in an estimated end-of-year population of fewer than 550 wolves.
Hunting will be managed in 12 zones. Hunting intensity would vary with levels of conflict between wolves and livestock or game animals. But when the statewide mortality limit is reached, all hunting would stop. When limits in individual zones are reached, hunting in those zones would stop.
Additional rules include a mandatory report within 72 hours and check-in within 10 days of killing a wolf, and no trapping, electronic devices, bait or dogs will be allowed in the first year. Weapons restrictions are the same as for deer.
Fish and Game expects to release season and rules brochures to the public in July.