Jan. 24–Members of the Sandpoint-based wolf trapping group Foundation For Wildlife Management visited Lewiston Thursday to try to get trappers and elk hunters from the Clearwater Region to join their cause, which reimburses wolf trappers for expenses.
“Every big game hunter concerned about the decimation of elk herds in these units ought to belong,” said Tony McDermott, a former Idaho Fish and Game Commission member who is on the group’s board. “We are in lockstep with (Idaho) Fish and Game. We are about elk and we are about predator management, and the two go hand in hand.”
Memberships cost $35. Those who join and successfully trap a wolf are eligible to be reimbursed up to $500 for the expenses they incur. About 30 people attended the meeting Thursday at the Clearwater Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The group signed up about a dozen new members.
The concept was born in the Panhandle Region as a way to help the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reach its goal of reducing the state’s wolf numbers, particularly in areas where elk herds are in decline.
“We need to figure out a way to help Idaho Fish and Game get to their goals of managing predators,” said Tom Anderson of Sandpoint.
They saw that trapping appeared to be a more effective way to harvest wolves than hunting. But they quickly realized trapping was time-consuming and expensive. Trappers are required to check their traps and snares every 72 hours, which often entails driving hundreds of miles.
“Someone said if you can save elk with dollar bills let’s give them dollar bills, and we’ve trapped more wolves in the panhandle than the rest of the state combined,” said Jack Hammack of Sandpoint.
Hammack is facing a misdemeanor unlawful possession of wildlife citation in Idaho. He declined to comment on the case other than to say he is innocent of the charge and it will soon be resolved.
Last year, the group wrote 22 $500 checks to successful wolf trappers. This year it has written nearly 30.
The foundation operated for two years with very little fanfare. Knowing anything to do with wolves can be controversial, group members were content to keep it that way. But they also believed the idea would be popular in places like the Clearwater region, and they decided to publicize their efforts and attempt to start a Clearwater chapter.
“We need some people. We need some enthusiasm and we need some trappers out there,” said Ron Willouby of Moscow.
The group made a presentation to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Jan. 16 in Boise. The commission voted to write a letter of support.
“I think it’s a concept worth pursuing and the commission is behind that,” said Fred Trevey, a Fish and Game Commission member from Lewiston.
Barker may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.