Idaho Sees Record-Breaking Wolf Harvest

In 2011 wolfs were removed from Endangered Species Act protections and since then their populations have continues to grow even with robust hunting and trapping programs. This past year Idaho has seen a record number of wolfs killed.

According to Big Country News, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission saw a record-breaking number of wolf mortality with 570 wolves either killed by hunters and trappers or other means, such as vehicle collisions.

Katie Oelrich, Fish and Game wildlife staff biologist for large carnivores, said the department has seen a “substantial increase in wolf harvest.”

The trapping harvest saw an 86% increase, Oelrich said, from:

  • 231 wolves in 2019-20
  • 124 wolves in 2018-19

The general hunting harvest saw a bump from:

  • 223 wolves in 2019-2020
  • 188 wolves in 2018-19

A lot of people will look at those numbers and just see a large number of wolves killed, but what they should really be looking at is that is is a great sign of a healthy and robust population.

In July 2019, the number of wolves living in Idaho is estimated to be somewhere between 1,112 and 1,970 animals. Those numbers mean that the population is “secure in Idaho,” according to Oelrich.

The recovery of the gray wolf is something we can all be proud of. We were able to pull a species that was extirpated from a region and return it to the states to manage.

In fact, gray wolves should be completely removed from ESA protection by the end of this year, except for a small population of Mexican gray wolves that live in the South-West.