Idaho residents responded in packs to a set of proposals to expand wolf hunting seasons in the state.
Fish and Game officials said that the agency has received tens of thousands of responses to their proposals to change wolf hunting seasons in Idaho. While the content of the responses hasn’t been released, one official said the response was the strongest he had seen in the past six years.
The proposals were introduced as a response to growing wolf populations. Recent estimates showed the population reached a peak of over 1,500 wolves in summer 2019. This is high above federal guidelines for wolf population recover, which only requires 150 wolves throughout the state.
Officials also expressed concerns that the wolf populations could spread to southern Idaho, leading to higher livestock predations.
In an effort to control wolf populations, the Fish and Game Commission offered seven hunting proposals and two trapping proposals. The plans would extend the wolf hunting and trapping seasons to an 11-month period between Aug. 1 and June 30. Southwestern and south-central Idaho, meanwhile, would have a year-round hunting season no both public and private land. The current season runs from Aug. 30 to March 31.
The trapping proposals would also create a special season to allow the use of snares in some units. That season would run from Oct. 10 to March 31.
The proposals were released Jan. 28, opening them to public response by Idaho residents. By the time responses closed Feb. 10, officials said it had received comments in unprecedented numbers.
According to Ben Studer, IDL’s webmaster, comment periods on rules changes usually collect around 200 responses in their lifetime. In contrast, the wolf season proposals have received 28,513 as of a preliminary count Feb. 11. The final number is expected to fluctuate as comments are processed.
“We’re looking at upward of 30,000 comments on this proposal,” Public Information Supervisor Roger Phillips said. “That’s a lot of comments, but not wholly surprising considering wolves and wolf regulations sometimes draw national attention.”
Fish and Game are still working to look through comments, and have not released a final report. The results of the public response period will be processed and prepared in a report to Fish and Game commissioners at a future date.