U.S. Wolf Hunts May Kill Hundreds -- Spurs Demand, Ire

August 24, 2009

Starting today, hunters can walk into any license vendor in Idaho and buy a tag to kill a gray wolf.

Vendors such as Daniel Stephenson, owner of River of No Return Taxidermy in Salmon, Idaho, expect robust demand.

"In our area, there're lots of [wolves] and they're not a real popular thing for deer and elk hunters," Stephenson said. "So everybody wants a chance to go get one."

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a plan August 17 to allow up to 220 wolves to be killed by the public this coming fall and winter. Licensed hunters will be allowed to kill wolves starting September 1. Most hunting will be finished by December 31.

Montana, another state with a growing wolf population, already approved a 75-animal quota for its wolf hunt, which gets underway September 15 and lasts until November 29.

Both hunts come just months after the predators were removed from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

(Related: "N. Rockies Gray Wolf Removed From U.S. Endangered List.")


But there's still a chance wolf season won't open this year.

A coalition of environmental groups, including the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a motion August 20 in a federal district court to block the wolf hunts, pending the outcome of a lawsuit seeking to restore federal protections for the wolves.

A hearing on the motion is set for August 31.

The groups, represented by the environmental law firm Earthjustice, argue that wolf populations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are isolated from each other and thus unable to interbreed. (See a regional map.)

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