Idaho elk hunters concerned about wolves

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - About a third of Idaho hunters who made written comments on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission's draft elk-management plan say they want more wolves killed to increase the elk population.

The Times-News reports that the commission at its quarterly meeting Thursday received the first report on the 442 comments.

About 150 hunters say they want increased measures to control wolf populations. Only 19 people making comments wanted no wolf-control measures.

The elk management plan was last updated in 1999. Fish and Game officials hope to have a new plan in place by early 2014.

Plan coordinator Craig White said the proposal will have to take into consideration problems faced in various parts of the state. He said wolves have cut elk populations in rugged parts of northern Idaho, but in other areas, declining numbers might be due to overharvest or other factors.

He also noted that some areas have too many elk.

Aggressive wolf management in southern Idaho zones is unnecessary, White said, except to ensure cow and sheep operations aren't damaged.

"Our problem here is that we have so many elk that they are causing problems on the fields," he said.

The final plan also has to reflect hunters' preferences. Fish and Game asked hunters whether they preferred hunting elk every year or restricting it so there is an opportunity to bag a trophy bull elk every 10 years.

"People still want (those trophies), but by and large, it is being able to hunt with family and friends and having over-the-counter tags," he said.

The plan also addresses elk habitat and damage the animal causes to crops.

"Even though we've lost elk in the backcountry, we've gained them in other areas and could potentially gain more," White said. "But we need to work with landowners because they support a lot of elk . and we want their support."

___

Information from: The Times-News