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Wolves and Wheels

Fish and Game outlines its new elk management plan and Ride Idaho maps out its seven-day tour.

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Always controversial, wolves and wolf management were top of the agenda for those attending a Jan. 15 public hearing in Boise on Idaho Fish and Game's revised elk management plan.

The plan, which was adopted by the seven-member commission on Jan. 16, calls for aggressive efforts to reduce wolf populations in several areas of the state, including in the Middle Fork Zone, where a so-called "predator derby" in Salmon recently made national headlines (see News, Page 8).

According to the document, which prescribes 10-year management strategies for boosting the elk population in 28 zones around Idaho, elk are hardest hit by predation in the rugged backcountry of the Lolo, Selway, Middle Fork and Salmon areas. In the Middle Fork Zone, IDFG's plan calls for elk herd increases of 3,850-5,750 cows, 690-1,030 bulls and 390-810 adult bulls.

According to a 2011 survey (the most recent listed in the plan), 3,351 cows, 462 bulls and 420 calves were found in the zone--that's compared to 5,137, 834 and 1,007 cows, bulls and calves, respectively, identified in 2006.

"Likely the decline has been exacerbated by high elk predation rates," the plan stated. "Restoring this elk population will require liberal predator harvest through hunting and trapping seasons, and control actions."

In nonmotorized, nongun-firing rec news, Ride Idaho--a 400-mile, seven-day recreational bicycle tour around some of the most beautiful and historic places in the Gem State--announced the 2014 route at the annual kick-off party Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Beside Bardenay. This year's event will start and finish in Twin Falls, looping through Malad Gorge State Park, the Wood River Valley and the City of Rocks.

Between 350 and 400 riders from around the country are expected to attend the 10th iteration of Ride Idaho--making it one of the most popular annual cycling events in the state.

Director Earl Grief is very happy with the response Ride Idaho receives from the communities along its route.

"It's about tourism and health--we give back to different communities in different ways. We've given equipment to Sandpoint and to Coeur d' Alene to help clean the trails and clean the beaches. We also align with the Idaho Pedestrian & Bicycle Alliance," said Grief.

With an average age of 55, nightly entertainment and a relaxed vibe, Ride Idaho offers something for most skill and fitness levels. The event runs Aug. 3-9, 2014.

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