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Idaho completes elk surveys, annual wolf report

From the Idaho Department of Fish and Game

-- The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has completed aerial elk surveys in the Middle Fork Elk Management Zone. Incidental to the surveys, biologists radio-collared four wolves.

Biologists counted elk in game management units 26 and unit 27 to establish herd composition. Preliminary results show a low elk calf-to-cow ratio in unit 26.

During the elk survey flights, Fish and Game biologists encountered, darted and radio-collared four wolves from three different packs. Wolves were collared in Coxey, Marble and White creek drainages. The wolf collaring required 12 helicopter landings within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

These operations were completed under a U.S. Forest Service special use permit that allowed limited helicopter landings within the wilderness area. For questions or comments go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/inc/contact.cfm.

Wolf Survey Results Available

The annual summary of wolf recovery in Idaho is now available, and it shows wolf numbers are nearly the same as 2008.
The Idaho 2009 Wolf Conservation and Management Progress Report includes the current status of the wolf population in Idaho. Biologists documented 94 Idaho resident and border wolf packs at the end of 2009. The minimum population was estimated at 843 wolves. In 2008, the minimum population estimate was 856 wolves.

In addition, 20 documented border packs were counted for Montana, Wyoming and Washington that established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary and likely spent some time in Idaho.

Of the 65 packs known to have reproduced, 49 packs qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year. These 65 reproductive packs produced a minimum of 204 pups.

In Idaho, wolf packs ranged from the Canadian border south to Interstate 84, and from the Washington and Oregon borders east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves were occasionally reported in previously unoccupied areas.

Sixteen previously unknown packs were documented during 2009, but the overall net increase was only six documented packs in the state. During 2009, 343 wolf observations were reported on the Fish and Game website report form.

Biologists confirmed the deaths of 275 wolves in Idaho during 2009. Three of those belonged to Montana packs and were addressed in that state's report. Of known wolf mortalities, hunter harvest accounted for 135 deaths and agency control and legal landowner take in response to wolf-livestock depredation accounted for 94 deaths.

Twenty wolf mortalities were attributed to other human causes, including illegal take. The cause of 24 wolf mortalities could not be determined and were listed as unknown, and two wolves died of natural causes.

The Idaho progress report is available online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/manage/.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Rocky Mountain progress report, which includes reports from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, is available at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt09/index.html. For questions or comments go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/inc/contact.cfm.

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