COEUR d'ALENE - More wolves were detected in the Panhandle wolf management zone than any other in Idaho last year, the state's annual monitoring report for the predator shows.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game released the report Friday, and it shows 58 wolves were detected by qualified agency personnel through monitoring flights or ground observations conducted this past winter. The Panhandle also had the greatest number of packs.
"We documented 20 packs believed to have denned in the Panhandle, but there are no doubt additional packs not documented, and documented packs from adjacent jurisdictions whose territories include parts of the Panhandle," Jim Hayden, Fish and Game's head wolf biologist, said Friday.
Fish and Game officials determined the Bumblebee pack, which inhabits the Coeur d'Alene River drainage, has a minimum of 14 wolves.
"Bumblebee was indeed the biggest pack documented in the Panhandle last year at 14," Hayden said. "That number has undoubtedly changed already with at least one wolf harvested since then, and dispersal expected. We don't typically see a large pack remaining large for a long period of time - numbers tend to ebb and flow."
The Dixie Queen pack to the north of Bumblebee has at least 7 members. The Chilco pack, with territory just to the west of the two others, includes Hayden Lake and has at least four members.
Hayden said Fish and Game could find no evidence last year that the Mica Peak pack was still out there.
"We still have reports of occasional wolves in the area, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if we get evidence in the next year or two and they come back on to the list," he said.
There were 85 wolves harvested in the Panhandle by hunters and trappers last year, which was far more than in any other Wolf Management Zone in the state. The next closest was the Dworshak-Elk City zone with 32.
For all of Idaho there were 104 documented packs at the end of 2014 and an estimated 770 wolves. That's far more than the 150 required by the 2009 federal de-listing rule, but fewer than the peak years of 2008 and 2009.
There are also 23 documented border packs counted by Montana, Wyoming and Washington that have established territories that spill into Idaho.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-introduced 66 gray wolves into central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996 to restore populations in the northern Rocky Mountain states. In 2011, the federal government de-listed wolves in the northern Rockies from protections of the Endangered Species Act, and management responsibility was transferred to states.
Hunters and trappers in the state harvested a total of 256 wolves last year, which was 100 fewer than 2013.
To protect livestock, 67 wolves were killed last year, less than the 94 in 2013.
Officials were able to confirm wolves killed 43 cattle, 100 sheep, three dogs and one horse. Ten more cattle, seven sheep and one dog were classified as "probable" wolf kills.
There were no reports of cattle, sheep, dogs or horses killed in the Panhandle by wolves.