First Decline Since Reintroduction
In Testimony to the Senate Resource and Environment Committee on January 18th Jim Unsworth, Deputy Director of the Idaho Fish and Game, said that the Idaho wolf population is about 800 animals which is down from last year’s estimate of 846. This would be the first decline seen in the wolf population since they were re-introduced in 1995.
The population has seen lower growth rates in recent years even though it is commonly claimed that the population has grown by 20% each year. With this year’s hunt (135 in 2009 and 11 in 2010), control actions by Wildlife Services (87), known poaching (13), and other mortality (38) there have been 284 wolf mortalities which is the highest since the reintroduction occurred. Data from December 2009 Management Progress Report.
Here is the testimony:
Senator Stennett asked for a point of clarity regarding the number of wolves for the next hunting season and the number of tags. Mr. Unsworth said they haven’t done the estimates yet, but this year they had 95 packs (about 800 animals) and it is the Commission’s decision as to what the harvest will be for next year. Senator Stennett inquired about the study on elk in the Lolo area. Mr. Unsworth stated that he would provide her with that information.
Other interesting information is also found in his testimony. “149 radio-marked wolves were monitored in Idaho during 2009” and “10 of 135 harvested wolves were wearing radio collars. Capturing and radio-collaring efforts will need to be increased to compensate for lost collars.”