Idaho Fish and Game announced on Monday that the department has concluded a wolf cull in the state’s northern Lolo zone, ending with 19 wolves killed. The aerial cull was carried out to help mitigate the effects of wolf predation on the region’s plummeting elk population. Surveys in 1989 pegged Lolo’s elk population at 16,000 animals, butin 2010 only 2,000 remained. Officials now believe that only 1,000 elk still live along the state’s northern border with Montana. There are a number of causes for the decline—including predation by other animals, climate change, and loss of habitat—but biologists have singled out wolves as one of the chief factors.

“Ongoing wolf and elk research has shown that wolves have become the primary predator impacting calf and cow elk survival in the Lolo, contributing to a continual decline in total elk population,” Fish and Game stated in a press release.

The Lolo zone is known for its steep, rugged terrain and few roads, making it hard for hunters to access. When wolves were reintroduced into Idaho in 1995, a number of the animals migrated into the region due to its large number of elk and other beneficial conditions, such as extremely limited hunting. This allowed wolves and other predators to thrive. Game and Fish is now considering loosening restrictions on hunting and promoting harvests of predators in an attempt to stabilize the surviving elk population.

“Restoring the Lolo elk population will require liberal bear, mountain lion, and wolf harvest through hunting and trapping (in the case of wolves), and control actions in addition to improving elk habitat,” Game and Fish stated.

On Tuesday, Idaho lawmakers also voted to give the department an additional $400,000 towards its wolf control program, which will be used in culling nuisance packs like those in Lolo. The program is also paid for by hunters through the sale of hunting licenses.

Image courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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6 thoughts on “Idaho Completes Cull of 19 Wolves, Seeks Funds to Bolster Program

  1. The shame is it never needed to go like this. This isolated area would not support any kind of balance with the presence of these wolves. They would eventually move out of the area in order to eat. They will reduce the herd to nothing and force themselves out. The 16,000 elk that figured out they had a mostly predator free existence won’t ever rebound to 16,000 ever again. What will happen again and again is aerial kills of the wolf pack because they will just reproduce and kill elk like crazy. So the only thing accomplished was to devastate this herd with more unnecessary wolf lives that did not or would not have naturally occurred. They occurred because they were put there not ranged there. Not hunted out of there either as it was stated that it was an extremely hard area to reach just in order to hunt. Just more bass awkward utopians…….

  2. So, your saying these wolves did not naturally range there but put there by man?…If so, it’s real irresponsible of the Dept that did it. Seems like they could of been monitored better and I did get a chuckle in the article that habitat needs to be increased..Like that should of been done a long time ago..Wolves always get a bad rap, including from the OutdoorHub…I m a hunter for 48 years and anymore people just want to kills things for no purpose..Here in Michigan, we have some wolves in the UP. The DNR broke under pressure to have “the big wolf hunt”.. It was a joke. Had a few wolves that did prey on some farm animals but that is why we have an AGRICULTURAL DEPT called Wildlife Services and the DNR themselves to control them..No need to make it a public hunt. Now a Federal Judge stepped in and put them in their place…Good For Her!,,I noticed along time ago, outdoor magazines are very biased on wolves. Should be a lot more critical of man themselves and tell the real story.

    1. I agree, TERRIBLY irresponsible. Also very irresponsible to create another drain on the tax dollars. AG doesn’t do game and fish! We already have an over bloated beaurocracy for that, and they are the boobs who planted wolves and cats everywhere! Hunting the wolves and killing them is how they would do it too, so why is it a bad thing to have the true stewards do the job? It’s not wanton waste! They aren’t just left there. Some people even eat the meat. The travesty was to have strapped society and the wild with with a problem that didn’t have to exist. No one is saying a complete eradication, no one ever did. That’s pretty much impossible too. When it was tried (long, long ago) hundreds of thousands hunters and govt tried but couldn’t. Now, it’ll never happen because it’s illegal, there are no where enough shooters, and the govt won’t kill enough of them. So they have as I said simply turned the elk into a catalyst for wolf overpopulation. Now that’s wanton waste!

  3. Lolo will recover by improving habitat,and managing predators wisely. The numbers of elk may never reach 16,000 animals again. But should recover so there is a huntable herd.

    1. Naw, there are still wolves there. They’ll just make more wolves. The elk population will rise a little and then be decimated, then rise slightly and then be drawn down again. Then tax dollars will have to pay for another cull. The isolated area only insures that as long as the wolves are there. It only took a few to get out of hand. There’s still more than a few….

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