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Wolf Crossings

A Rural Viewpoint On Wolf Reintroduction And Protection

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Updated 10-06



Wolf numbers increase

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) -- About 1,200 wolves now roam the Northern Rockies -- more than half of them in Idaho's mountains -- according to preliminary report by state, federal and tribal wildlife managers.

The midyear count, considered a conservative number, found the number of gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming has grown 20 percent so far this year. The count could change after another survey this winter, managers said.

The report says there are 1,229 wolves representing 158 packs with 87 potential breeding pairs. That's up from the end of 2005 when there were an estimated 1,000 wolves, with just more than 500 in Idaho, The Lewiston Tribune reported.

Now, Idaho is estimated to have 650 wolves, while Montana has 270 and Wyoming 309.

The wolves, transplanted into the region in the mid-1990s, exceed the recovery goals set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but remain listed as a protected species.

"The wolf population is recovered. It should be delisted," Ed Bangs, the wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said last week at Helena, Mont.

Before delisting can happen, the three states must have federally approved plans for wolf management.

Plans by Idaho and Montana have been approved, but Wyoming's has been rejected over concerns wolves in that state could be killed with few restrictions.

Federal official are now considering a plan to delist wolves in Idaho and Montana, but not Wyoming.

In Idaho, state officials are allowed to kill wolves preying on livestock, but cannot kill wolves thought to be causing declines in big game herds, such as elk, unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives approval.

Idaho officials want to kill up to 43 wolves in north-central Idaho to boost elk numbers. Getting that permission appears unlikely because federal officials say the scientific data gathered by the state isn't adequate.

Because of that, Idaho officials say they are working instead on getting wolves delisted. Delisting would allow for hunting seasons on wolves, Bangs has said.