Wolves still under fire

One wolf season ends, another opens

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COEUR d'ALENE - The 2011-12 wolf hunting seasons in Idaho ended Saturday.

On Sunday, the 2012-13 season opened on private land only in the Panhandle wolf management zone.

Mike Leahy doesn't like it.

The Rocky Mountain director for Defenders of Wildlife said despite eliminating hundreds of wolves in the last year, "Idaho is already ramping up its wolf-killing efforts by allowing wolves to be targeted year-round, bringing them one step closer to declaring open season on wolves statewide."

"Idaho isn't 'managing' wolves, they're just attempting to drive the population down to the federal minimum of 100 to 150 wolves per state," he said in a prepared statement. "No other native animal is intentionally driven down to such artificially low numbers, especially one that Americans have worked so hard to restore. Black bears and mountain lions aren't hunted year-round even though there are far more of them, and wolves shouldn't be either."

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported that during the 2011-12 wolf seasons, hunters killed 255 wolves, and trappers 124, for a total of 379 wolves.

Phil Cooper, Idaho Fish and Game regional conservation officer, said people have found wolves are very difficult to hunt and very difficult to trap.

"We certainly want to see numbers reduced," he said.

"We're hopeful that the one year of experience trappers have had will make them a little more proficient at catching wolves."

Wolf hunters may use five tags - one wolf per tag. There is no overall harvest limit in the region.

Cooper said not many hunters got more than a few wolves.

"Individual limits didn't come into play for very many people," he said.

It will take some time to see how actively hunters go after wolves on private land to see if this newest wolf hunting season is a success.

Typically, he said wolves are found on public land, at least in the Panhandle.

Leahy said Idaho's hunting of wolves on private land means that the wolf season is open somewhere in Idaho every day of the year.

"Idaho appears more concerned with catering to anti-wolf extremists who want to get rid of as many wolves as possible than in responsibly managing wildlife," he said. "In doing so, the state is ignoring the vast majority of Americans that want to see responsible wolf management and a healthy wolf population for generations to come."

The wolf hunting season opens throughout the rest of the state on Aug. 30. The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in six wolf zones.

Wolf tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. Hunting licenses and tags are valid for a calendar year; trapping licenses and tags are valid from July 1 through June 30.

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