The Idaho Department of Fish and Game estimates there were 1,556 gray wolves in the state of Idaho during 2020, an amount 600 percent above minimum recovery levels. Biologists determined the count during August of 2020 when the population is at its maximum. The 2019 estimate was 1,566.
The number of wolves removed from the landscape due to human-caused mortality between August 2019 and 2020 was 583, or 53 percent higher than 382 the previous year.
“It is important to be able to describe both the annual population cycle and longer-term population trend from year to year,” Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said. “Idaho has a commitment to maintain a population of at least 150 wolves. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is responsible for managing the state’s wolf population, and it has established an objective to manage for a smaller wolf population to reduce conflicts with livestock and managing the state’s wildlife to keep a healthy balance between predators and prey.
“The population estimate is a valuable tool to both measure the effectiveness of the commission’s management and provide the public with a clear understanding of that management,” said Schriever. “Although the population was stable from 2019 to 2020, the estimate did measure lower wolf occupancy in areas where wolf mortality was highest.”
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation maintains that state agencies are best to manage wolves just as they manage elk, bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife so all populations, predator and prey alike, thrive.
(Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)