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Idaho Fish and Game responds to wolf depredation

From Idaho Fish and Game

-- In January, wolves killed four calves and a cattle dog at a Sweet-Ola area feed lot. Idaho Fish and Game worked with the producer and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to stop depredations, but the wolves kept coming back.

After the first two calves were killed, Wildlife Services removed two wolves. The rest of the pack came back a few days later. After wolves killed two more calves and a cattle dog, Wildlife Services killed the remainder of the pack in early February.

Lethal control of wolves in response to livestock depredation is nothing new.

When wolves were still on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed wolves to be killed when they repeatedly preyed on livestock. Now that Idaho manages wolves, the same measures will continue.

Since September 2009, Idaho Fish and Game has authorized the removal of three wolf packs in response to chronic depredation similar the Sweet-Ola pack. The response to chronic depredation by wolves is set out in the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan 2008-2012, adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in March 2008, and approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the process of removing wolves from the endangered species list.

The response is consistent with Fish and Game's long-standing practice for dealing with big game conflicts with human activities, such as when deer and elk eat farm crops, or when black bears or mountain lions kill livestock.

Depredation hunts are commonly used to respond to crop damage by deer and elk.

Since 2003, confirmed wolf depredations on livestock have increased nearly threefold from 140 to 385 in 2009. In that time, the wolf population has gone from a minimum of just under 400 to a minimum of 850 wolves.

One of the goals of Idaho's wolf management plan is to allow wolves to persist in areas where they do not cause excessive conflict with human activities. But in areas where wolf depredation on livestock is chronic or losses are deemed unacceptable, sterner measures are used.

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