Managing wolves is complicated. It requires a good understanding of their biology. That includes understanding wolf cub survival rates. Since the 1938 initiative, Idaho Fish and Game's biologists continue to try new methods to gain more knowledge and understanding of Idaho's wildlife to preserve, protect, and manage Idaho's wildlife resources.
The following Spokesman Review article tells about Lacy Robinson's recent ground breaking research for monitoring wolf pups. Read more at http://spokesman.com/stories/2014/mar/05/idaho-biologist-develops-way-to-track-wolf-pup/
Want to know more? This video documents the new method of monitoring wolf pups.
Note: There is footage of a minor surgery that some users might find upsetting.
Frankly, I’m not a big fan of check stations. They’re spot checks at a single location and there are a lot of factors that influence the data other than the size of the elk herd. (That’s why I do like the mid-winter flight data, even though it’s a lot more expensive.)
We’ve run two stations pretty regularly since 1974 (a few scattered before that as well). Hunting seasons have changed a lot, so I truncated the data at 1991 in the graphs below. That’s the year we moved from a September either sex opener, to a standard October 10th bull opener. You could probably make a decent argument that the graphs should only go back to 1998, when we started the A/B tag system.
So, in VERY general terms, bull elk success rates are looking decent at both check stations, and hunter participation has been declining through both stations since about 1992:
I gave up on trying to make comparisons for cow harvest. Sometimes the cow season opened on a Friday, sometimes on a Saturday; sometimes it was 7 days long, sometimes 3, etc. That analysis will just have to wait for the report card data to come in.
From October 1-24, 2009, hunters took 7 wolves in the Idaho Panhandle. Hunters have taken 9 wolves during this same period this year. We also had an earlier opener this year (August 30th) with 6 wolves taken prior to October 1. If we follow the same pattern of harvest as 2009, we would have a final hunter harvest of about 40 wolves. In general terms, this would take care of most, if not all of the expected reproductive increase. Trapping should result in a decrease in the Panhandle’s wolf population.