Wolf Policy Adopted

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An updated Idaho Fish and Game Commission policy on wolves will make Fish and Game's position consistent with changes in state law.

The Fish and Game Commission met on July 11, 2003 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and adopted the following policy:

The legislature has passed HB294 that allows the state to become re-involved in wolf management, and has also approved a Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that identified IDFG as Idaho's primary managers of wolves following delisting.

Biological wolf recovery has occurred in Idaho under the oversight of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and delisting is underway. We acknowledge the complex nature of wolf conservation and management and the controversial role that wolves will play in our state. We recognize that the state's interests would be best served by state control of wolf management. We also recognize our responsibilities to preserve, protect, and perpetuate all wildlife of the State of Idaho.

IDFG staff should do what is necessary and within the guidelines of state and federal laws and Idaho's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan to prepare for and to take over management once wolves are delisted. These efforts should be coordinated through the Wildlife Bureau and the Director's office. It is the intention of this commission that license dollars not be spent on wolf management, and any wolf related work that is not currently funded is contingent upon additional federal funding, or otherwise must have Director's approval. Staff will continue to coordinate and work with the Governor's Office of Species Conservation as outlined under HB294.

The Idaho legislature passed a joint resolution in 2002 accepting the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The plan, which was previously negotiated by a panel including Fish and Game and citizens, calls for Fish and Game to be the primary manager of wolves in Idaho once they are taken off the federal list of endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted its rule for down-listing wolves in February 2003. The Service anticipates delisting to occur by December 2004, accounting for time to deal with expected litigation.

Department biologists emphasized in their briefing of the Commission that preparations need to be made so Fish and Game will be ready before delisting happens in order to avoid delays. Current estimates indicate Idaho has 14 verified breeding pairs and as many as 41 suspected wolf packs.