Although it hasn’t been officially announced, I understand the recent plan to reduce the wolf population by 80% for five years over a large portion of north central Idaho has been withdrawn. I regard this as one of the biggest victories in a long time.
Idaho Fish and Game Commission proposed it as a way of regenerating the large elk herds that have declined in the last 15 years in much of the upper Clearwater River drainages.
The plan was immediately met by massive negative public comments, both within and outside of Idaho.
It was probably obvious too, to the Fish and Game Commission, that the plan could not pass scientific muster. That is required until the wolf is completely delisted, although I think that science should play a much more important role in all aspects of wildlife management.
The sample size of wolf-killed elk was far too small to draw conclusions about the impact of wolf predation. There was no plan in place to monitor the elk population each year in project area as the plan was carried out. The rival hypothesis that the population decline of elk was due to habitat succession is well documented. It requires much evidence to shoot that hypothesis down. Idaho Fish and Game didn’t have it.
This will come up again when the wolf is delisted because the Commissioners are politicians of sorts, and they know that the appearance of doing something matters.
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Update Sept. 23. I was wrong believing that the Idaho Fish and Game Commission came to their senses and withdrew their scheme. Instead, the federal government rejected it, as this story from the AP by John Miller indicates.