March 22–A rule change from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission leaves wolf hunting season open 365 days a year on private property in Idaho’s Clearwater Region
The commission also moved up the opening of wolf trapping season in the region’s Lolo and Selway zones. The rules were adopted this week as part of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game 2014 Big Game Hunting Rules Package.
The commission previously approved year-round wolf hunting on private land in the Panhandle Region. With the addition of the Clearwater Region, wolf season is a permanent activity on most private land in Idaho from the Canadian border to the Salmon River. Wolf hunting on public land varies by area, but generally opens in late August and runs through March and even June in some units.
Dave Cadwallader, supervisor of the department’s Clearwater Region at Lewiston, said the measure was proposed as a way to give private landowners the ability to protect their property. But he said it isn’t likely to dramatically increase wolf harvest in the region. The rule has been in place for the Panhandle Region since 2012 and has resulted in very few wolves being killed.
“It gives them an opportunity to help themselves if that is what they need,” he said. “In the end, I don’t think you are going to see an active hunting effort.”
The commission also moved up the start of wolf trapping season from Nov. 15 to Oct. 10 in units 7 and 9 along the St. Joe River, units 10 and 12 that make up the Lolo Zone, and units 16A, 17, 19 and 20 that make up the Selway Zone. Cadwallader said the change is designed to increase wolf harvest in the two zones where elk herds are suffering.
“A lot of trappers have told us some of the areas we are trying to focus on are extremely difficult to get to in November when the season opens up. This just facilitates some of that.”
The earlier opening to trapping season could expose more pets to the risk of getting caught in traps and snares. There are more people recreating in the two zones in early October than November. Cadwallader said the department is working with trappers throughout the state to find ways to prevent and reduce conflicts with pets. The agency is also trying to make the non-trapping public more aware that their pets might encounter traps in some areas.
“I think a lot of it is awareness and education. We have some videos and stuff on our website and a lot of that stuff is changing and being added to frequently to get people informed.”
The department has a stated goal of reducing the wolf population in several zones around the state including the Lolo and Selway. At the request of the department, agents from the federal Wildlife Services Agency used a helicopter to shoot 23 wolves in the Lolo Zone last month. Earlier in the year, a trapper hired by the department killed nine wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.
Other changes to the state’s big game hunting rules include:
–Wolf trappers will be able to use road-killed and other salvaged wildlife as bait.
–The start of the antlered mule deer hunt in unit 18 will be moved back a week to Oct. 17.
–The muzzeloader hunt for elk in unit 8A will be extended by five days to end on Dec. 14.
–The closing date for spring black bear hunts will be moved back two weeks to May 31 in units 2, 3, 5, 8, 11, 11A and 13.
–The closing day for fall black bear hunts will be moved from Nov. 3 to Nov. 30 in units 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16A, 17, 19, 20, 20A, 26 and 27.
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