Wolf Delisting by End of Week?

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Barring legal challenges, the federal rule removing wolves in Idaho and the rest of the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species becomes final Friday, March 28.

When it does, Idaho Fish and Game will take over management of wolves, but little will change noticeably until hunting seasons begin.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's final rule removing wolves in those three states and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah was published in the federal register February 27.

Once the rule takes effect, wolf management will be the same north and south of Interstate 90. Owners of livestock, pack animals and pets would be able to kill wolves attacking or harassing their animals. But the incident must be reported within 72 hours, and there must be evidence of such an attack.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan in March 6. The plan would govern wolf management when the delisting takes effect. Commissioners are expected to set seasons and rules for wolf hunts in May.

The plan also is available at the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.

In Idaho, wolf packs range from the Canadian border south to Interstate 84, and from the Oregon border east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves occasionally have been reported in previously unoccupied areas.

During 2007, biologists documented 83 resident wolf packs in Idaho. A minimum of 489 wolves was observed, and the minimum population was estimated at 732 wolves. In addition, 13 documented border packs counted for Montana and Wyoming had established territories straddling the Idaho state boundary and probably spent some time in Idaho.

Of the 59 packs known to have reproduced, 43 packs qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year. These 59 reproductive packs produced at least 200 pups in 2007. Seventeen previously unknown packs were documented during 2007, and 78 wolves were confirmed to have died in Idaho.