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Wolf attacks on Idaho livestock down again

Idaho Fish and Game

Wolf depredations on Idaho livestock are down for the third year in a row, according to USDA Wildlife Services.

The Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board pays the federal agency, in part with state funds, to respond to complaints from ranchers of wolves attacking their livestock.

This past fiscal year, ending in June, Wildlife Services investigated 142 suspected instances of livestock losses attributed to wolves, marking a decrease from the two previous years of 157 investigations in 2022 and 187 investigations in 2021.

"So, quite a quite a few less investigations," said Jared Hedelius, the agency’s Idaho state director.

From the 142 investigations, the agency confirmed 46, or 32%, as wolf depredations, a decrease from the 108 confirmed cases two years ago.

Wildlife services staff determined wolves were responsible for 85 livestock deaths in Idaho in the past year -- 23 cows and calves and 62 sheep. Another eight cows and calves and two sheep were considered "probable" wolf kills. In response, Wildlife Services killed 28 wolves in Idaho.

Over the past few years, approximately 500 wolves in Idaho have been harvested annually, primarily through hunting and trapping.

Katie Oelrich, a biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, informed the Wolf Depredation Control Board of the agency's intentions to significantly increase the use of radio collars on wolves for targeted killing, as well as research purposes.

"This winter, we will again focus on collaring and removal in areas with predation management plans," she said.

Historically, IDFG's collar placement efforts have centered on the Lolo Zone, where elk populations are below management goals. Wildlife Services also uses collars to more easily find wolves it wants to kill.

This initiative comes as the Fish and Game Commission approved a plan in the spring to reduce the state’s wolf population from roughly 1,300 down to 500.

The state agency typically updates the legislature on the annual wolf count in January. Last year, it reported a decrease in the wolf population for the first time in four years.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.

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