Wolf trapping season under way in Panhandle zone

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COEUR d'ALENE - Hunters have taken 16 wolves through Thursday in Idaho's Panhandle wolf zone since the hunting season opened Aug. 30, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Three other zones in north central and central Idaho have each had a dozen wolves harvested, including the Dworshak-Elk City, Salmon and McCall-Weiser zones.

Statewide, 96 wolves have been killed by hunters so far in the 2012-2013 hunting season.

The 2012-2013 wolf trapping season opened Thursday and runs through March 31 in the Panhandle zone. Units two and three in the zone are closed to trapping.

Phil Cooper, a spokesman for Fish and Game in Coeur d'Alene, said, "There are just too many potential conflicts with domestic animals" in the two zones.

There are no harvest limits for the Panhandle zone for hunting or trapping.

Limits are in place in central Idaho in the Salmon River area to protect the interstate travel of the animals, Cooper said.

Also in those central zones it's important to maintain population connections, and have genetic interchange, he said.

"We want to make sure we don't have any isolated populations," Cooper said.

For the entire 2011-2012 hunting season 33 wolves were taken in the Panhandle zone, and 43 were harvested by trappers.

The statewide total for the 2011-2012 season was 255 killed by hunters and 124 by trappers.

Cooper said it's difficult to determine whether or not the pace of this season's harvest is surpassing last season's pace.

"There's not a lot of experience predicting" what the season-end numbers will look like, he said.

This is only Idaho's second year of trapping in modern history and third year of hunting in modern history, he said.

"Trappers are starting to learn how to trap them and hunters are learning how to hunt them," he said.

Wolves now are being taken by hunters who are out for elk or deer and come upon an opportunity for a wolf, he said.

"When hunting (wolves) you've got to be at the right place at the right time," he said. "It's a real challenge to just go out and shoot a wolf."

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