by Deanna Darr
Tags for Idaho’s first official wolf hunt go on sale one week from today, with hunters allowed to take 220 animals over the fall and winter.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission set take limits for the hunt at its meeting today in Idaho Falls. Tags will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 24 at all state license vendors.
So, how much will it cost you to hunt for one of the recently delisted wolves? Resident tags will cost $11.75, while out-of-state hunters will pony up $186.
The planned hunt has been one of the more controversial portions of the state’s wolf management plan, which was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, as well as reconfirmed by the federal courts after numerous conservation groups filed lawsuits claiming that the states did not have enough protections in place to keep the species from again becoming endangered.
Just minutes after Fish and Game made the announcement, Defenders of Wildlife issued its own press release promising that it would join other groups to file an emergency motion to have the hunt suspended and wolves returned to federal protection.
According to Idaho Fish and Game, the state is now home to at least 1,000 wolves, with an estimated population increase of 20 percent per year if hunting is not allowed. Originally, 35 wolves were released into Central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.
Hunting limits were set in 12 wolf management zones within the state, and officials stated that when limits in each area are met, the season will close. Take limits will be adjusted each year depending on population and circumstances.
The first wolf season to open will be in the Lolo Zone in Northern Idaho and the Sawtooth Zone in Central Idaho, which will be open from Tuesday, Sept. 1 through March 31, 2010. The Selway and Middle Fork Zones in North Central Idaho will be open from Tuesday, Sept. 15 through Dec. 31, and the remaining eight management zones will be open from Saturday, Oct. 31 through Dec. 31.
The Boise area is in the South Idaho Zone, which reaches from the Oregon border to the Wyoming state line. There will be a total of five wolves allowed to be taken from the hunting zone.
All wolf kills must be reported to Fish and Game within 24 hours.
Fish and Game spokesman Ed Mitchell said he’s already heard from numerous would-be hunters both in and out of state, all vying to be one of the few to take home a wolf.
According to Commission policy, the population will eventually be managed to 2005 levels of roughly 520 wolves, which is more than required by Fish and Wildlife to keep them off the Endangered Species List.