Wolf control is part of Fish and Game's predation management plan
In cooperation with Idaho Fish and Game, the USDA Wildlife Services has completed a wolf control action in northern Idaho’s Lolo zone.
Over three days in early February, Wildlife Services agents killed 14 wolves from a helicopter. The action is part of, and consistent with Idaho’s predation management plan for the Lolo elk zone.
In the Lolo zone, hunters have taken 11 wolves, trappers have taken 11, control efforts earlier in spring 2011 took six, and the most recent control effort took 14 for a total of 42 wolves.
The control action is part of continuing efforts to reduce excess predation on elk herds in the Lolo zone. Elk numbers in the Lolo zone have not met objectives in recent years with predation being the most important factor limiting elk.
In recent years wolves have been identified as the primary cause of death in female elk and calves over six months old. But the habitat in the area is capable of supporting an increased population, Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said.
“We’d like to see one of Idaho’s premier elk populations recover as much as possible,” he said.
In September, 2010, Fish and Game submitted a proposal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow wolf control actions in the Lolo elk zone under a provision of the Endangered Species Act. The initial target of that proposal was the removal of 40 to 50 wolves.
In May, 2011, after wolves in Idaho were removed from the endangered species list, Fish and Game resumed management and initiated the first control action guided by the predation management plan for the Lolo and Selway elk zones.
As of February 22, hunters and trappers have taken a total of 318 wolves across the state.