2008 Idaho wolf count. Population up 7% statewide but only 5% south of I-90.

Preliminary wolf numbers are announced by Idaho Fish and Game-

Idaho Wolves: At A Glance IDFG new release.

The news release reports that there are 824 wolves, 88 packs of which 38 are considered breeding pairs. This is up from the 732 wolves and 83 packs but not in the way that you may think.

At first glance these numbers would indicate a 15% increase in wolf numbers but that doesn’t take into account many factors. Each year when the final reports are written there are packs that were counted which didn’t appear in the previous year’s numbers but have yearling or sub-adult wolves in them. These wolves are retroactively added as packs to the previous years population numbers. This means that, from information that I have learned, that the population of wolves in Idaho has grown only 7% statewide and that most of that growth has occurred north of I-90 where wolves receive full protection under the ESA. If you take those wolves out of the equation then the population growth rate drops to only 5% south of I-90.

Rate of growth is declining. In previous years the population growth estimate has been about 20% until last year when there was a 8% growth rate and this year with a 7% growth rate.

The media often cites the 20% number or uses the mid-year numbers of wolves to indicate the growth rate of the population but since wolves have pups only once per year in April and May that number is always an overestimate since there is great mortality between the mid-year estimate and the end-of-the year estimate.

As far as radio collared wolves there are 84 wolves in 50 packs which had radio collars in December 2008, a little over 10%.