Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hunting takes a bite out of wolf populations in 3 western states

Aggressive gray wolf hunting and trapping took a toll in much of the Northern Rockies last year as the predator's population saw its most significant decline since being reintroduced to the region two decades ago. Yet state and federal wildlife officials said Friday that the population remains healthy overall, despite worries among some wildlife advocates over high harvest rates. Its range is even expanding in some areas as packs take hold in new portions of eastern Washington state and Oregon. Overall, biologists tallied a minimum of 1,674 wolves in 321 packs across the six-state Northern Rockies region at the end of 2012. That marks a 7 percent decline. "We expected the states to bring the population down and that's what's been happening," said Mike Jimenez, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "They are bringing it down gradually."  Wolf management was turned over to the states when the animals lost their federal protections over the last two years. Hunters and trappers legally killed a combined 570 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming last year.  The year-end numbers show Wyoming's wolf population down 16 percent from 2011, to 277 animals. Montana's numbers fell 4 percent to 625 and Idaho's dropped 11 percent to 683. That was partially offset by population gains in eastern portions of Washington and Oregon, where wolf numbers have been climbing rapidly over the last few years but still remain low compared to other parts of the region. Oregon now has 46 wolves in the eastern third of the state and Washington 43. Combined, that's almost double the 2011 numbers. The government's original recovery goal, set in the 1990s, was at least 300 wolves across the region. Despite last year's decline, the latest figures show the population remains at more than five times that level...more

Five times their original goal and the states are just now getting control of wolf management!

Apply that to the goal for Mexican gray wolf recovery and we'd need 510 of the critters.

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