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Dropping The Wolf

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The final countdown to the delisting of gray wolves in Idaho is down to days (BW, Features, "Prodigal Son," Feb. 27, 2008).

The species will be formally removed from the Endangered Species list as of March 28—that is, of course, as long as there aren't any legal challenges to the action.

With at least 732 wolves counted in Idaho last year, the program has far exceeded its population goals. With the delisting, the wolf populations in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and portions of Oregon, Washington and Utah will all fall under state control.

Under Idaho's approved management plan, the state has pledged to maintain no fewer than 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. If the number falls below this level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will step back in. Fish and Wildlife will monitor the states' management for five years.

The biggest change from federal control will be the introduction of a limited hunting season on the predator. In Idaho, wolves will be considered big game, and the number of hunting permits would depend on the population goals in each of the state's hunting regions.

If all goes as planned, Idaho's first wolf hunt could be held as soon as this fall.

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