Idaho Considers Controversial Wolf Hunting Tactic

Proposal to allow baiting of wolves causing howls on both sides of debate

Monday, July 24, 2017

By Lisa Lakey

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission currently is taking comments on several proposed rules for their meeting on Thursday, but one proposal is causing quite a howl on both sides of the debate and leaving critics wondering: Will Idaho be the first state to allow baiting wolves?

Currently in Idaho, wolves can be taken after being attracted to bear bait, which is permitted in the state, when seasons of both wolves and bears overlap. If the rule goes into effect, Idaho will be the first state to allow baiting of wolves.

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Guidelines would be similar to that of black bear hunts. Wolf bait would not be allowed to be placed prior to the start of the season, and all bait must be removed no more than seven days following the season’s close. A baiting permit would also be required.

The most recent numbers released show the state’s gray wolf population to be around 786. That was from 2015. The IFGC hasn’t released a wolf population report since, but the number rose from an estimated population of 684 in 2013. Although numbers appear steady, the proposal is drawing sharp criticism from wolf groups across the country.

“It’s so sad to see Idaho aggressively working to reverse wolf recovery, especially when that recovery is something most Americans support,” Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “In the absence of federal oversight, Idaho is doing everything it can to decimate Idaho’s wolf population.”

But this isn’t the first time Idaho has proposed the baiting of wolves. In 2014, the IFGC proposed an unsuccessful attempt to allow wolf baiting in the Middle Fork Zone to increase elk numbers. But wolves weren’t the only predator concern, as the proposal also suggested expanded hunting for both bear and cougar in the region.

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According to the 2015 wolf management report, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 35 cattle, 125 sheep, three dogs and one horse were confirmed cases of wolf depredation. An additional nine cattle and nine sheep were also listed as probable cases.

Also on the agenda for the July 27 meeting in Bonner’s Ferry, is the rescinding of telephone reporting for wolf harvest. Mandatory check of harvest wolves will still be required. The IFGC will also discuss the use of electronics in hunting big game.

Click here for more information on the upcoming proposals or the public comment period.