There are fewer wolves overall in the West, but Oregon and Washington's wolf populations continue to grow. That's according to the federal government's annual gray wolf tally, released Friday. As Jessica Robinson reports, the count has also revealed the initial effect of a controversial wolf hunting season in Idaho.
In the 2011-12 season, Idaho hunters and trappers killed nearly 400 wolves. Yet the population count decreased by just 63 animals, or 11 percent.
David Allen heads the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He says when you take into account new pups, the once-endangered wolves are now stable.
“And it's once again solid evidence that regulated, well-managed state-by-state hunting and trapping is an effective tool,” says Allen.
But wildlife advocate Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild says livestock depredation from wolves actually went up in Idaho even as wolves went down. Klavins says that's a sign hunting and trapping are destabilizing wolf packs.
“There's sort of a specious claim that if we kill wolves, we won't have as much conflict. But the reality is, that's just not panning out to be true.”
Klavins says in Oregon, non-lethal measures have reduced livestock losses, despite a sharp increase in the wolf population.
The 2012 federal count shows 46 wolves in Oregon. Washington had 51, though state wildlife managers say it may be as high as 100.
Northwest wolves, by the numbers:
Washington: 51 (up from 27 in 2011)
Oregon: 45 (up from 29 in 2011)
Idaho: 683 (down from 746 in 2011)
On the Web:
Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2012 Interagency Annual Report - US Fish & Wildlife Service