In the first year Idaho has no overall cap on wolf kills, hunters have bagged more wolves than ever. New numbers show — so far — hunters have taken 197 wolves in Idaho, compared with 181 for the entire 2009 season.
No one knows why exactly the numbers are up. Wolf trapping is allowed for the first time in Idaho — but that alone doesn't explain for the increase, says Jim Hayden. He's the Fish and Game regional manager for the Idaho panhandle.
"They're a difficult animal to hunt. People are learning a little bit more about it," Hayden explains. "We have some minor networks that formed so people start talking to each other -– 'Oh yeah, I bumped into something up in so-and-so drainage.' 'Oh I didn't know there was anything there, I'll look there.' So we have more communication there, a little more experience."
Though Hayden thinks the biggest reason for hunters' success is -– more wolves. He says at least half the wolves hunters have brought in came from areas Fish and Game didn't know had wolf packs.
But some environmentalists think the population is much smaller. According to federal counts, gray wolf numbers dropped between 2009 and 2010 in Idaho.
Wolf advocates worry hunting could destabilize the wolf's return. So far, a lawsuit to stop the hunts in Idaho and Montana has been unsuccessful.
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