Idaho Big Game Hunters: Keep Predators in Mind
As big game hunters take to the woods, they are reminded that they are not alone at the top of the food chain.
Each year, Idaho Fish and Game receives reports of wolves being attracted to hunters as they call elk, wolves visiting hunting camps and large predators eating carcasses that were not properly hung.
Hunting increases the chance of running into or attracting wolves and other carnivores.
Carcasses and gut piles attract bears, lions, and wolves and should be treated carefully to avoid losing game meat. The rule of thumb is to try to get the carcass out of the woods the same day it is killed. If the carcass remains overnight, it helps to place the gut pile on a tarp and drag it away from the carcass. Hunters should leave clothes, human scent, tarps or other items to deter carnivores from scavenging meat.
If possible, hang it between two trees, about 10 feet off the ground and four feet from the nearest tree to keep bears and other animals from getting it.
When returning to the kill, hunters should approach the carcass carefully and view it from a safe distance. Carnivores, especially bears, may be close by and might attempt to defend the carcass.
Some bears, wolves, coyotes and other scavengers may venture into campsites if they smell meat or other foods. Place game poles downwind and away from camp and stock so that if a large carnivore comes to investigate, it does not scare your stock. Make sure the meat is secured 10 feet off the ground and four feet from a tree. Bears and wolves may eat carcasses hung within reach.
Hunters and other people who have dogs should be aware that wolves may attack and injure dogs. It often helps to keep dogs in kennels or inside buildings at night and to not let them roam freely when humans are not around. When fresh wolf sign is found, owners should place dogs on restraints and keep them supervised.
Hound hunters should look for recent wolf sign before turning dogs out on a bear or lion track. To prevent conflict between hounds and wolves, some hound experts recommend that dogs be kept on a leash while tracking until the track gets fresh. Hounds by themselves should not be allowed to keep an animal treed for very long, as the sound of the hounds may attract wolves.
For information on hunting in grizzly bear habitat see Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/grizzlyCountry.pdf.
For information on the current status of wolves in Idaho, see the Fish and Game wolf webpage, at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.