Idaho Fish and Game approves year-round wolf hunts after weighing over 27,000 comments
Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday approved nine proposals to extend wolf hunting and trapping seasons following a two-week public comment period in which the commission received more than 27,000 responses from across the world.
In a news release, the Department of Fish and Game said the changes take effect immediately.
The commission approved seven hunting proposals and two trapping proposals during the Thursday conference call meeting. The move allows wolf hunting from Aug. 1 to June 30 across much of the state, and year-round wolf hunting in southwest and south-central Idaho.
Year-round hunts are also in effect in 19 hunting units with “chronic” wolf depredation on livestock, meaning incidents in four of the past five years.
Wolf trapping is now legal in parts of southeast Idaho, and snare traps can be used in some hunting units. For more details, visit idfg.idaho.gov.
Fish and Game commissioners proposed the season changes late last month after unveiling new population data that estimates there are more than 1,500 wolves in Idaho. Federal criteria for wolf recovery require only 150 wolves in the state.
During the 14-day public comment period on the proposals, Fish and Game received more than 27,000 responses, the overwhelming majority of which were negative. (For context, agency spokesman Brian Pearson said most proposals receive between 200 and 2,000 comments during the same time period.)
However, officials noted that more than 80% of the responses came from outside of Idaho; in many cases, they were from outside of the United States.
“Among Idaho residents who commented, about 55% supported each of the proposals, and about 45% opposed,” the Fish and Game news release said.
Most respondents favored all or opposed all of the proposals.
When the commission debuted the proposals in January, commission chair Jerry Meyers told the Statesman that he expected the comments to be “polar opposites.”
“There’s not really any middle ground (on wolves),” he said.