Idaho Wolf Management
The Idaho Legislature is considering a joint resolution urging the U.S. Forest Service to issue a permit to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to land helicopters in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area to help monitor wolves.

Fish and Game biologists have asked the U.S. Forest Service for permission to land helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness Area to dart and radio-collar at least 16 wolves encountered during winter aerial big game surveys. Biologists, who have little detailed information about wolves in the wilderness, argue that the collared wolves would provide details about the wolf population, such as rendezvous and denning sites and movements within the wilderness and would help meet Idaho wolf recovery requirements.

Under the 1964 Wilderness Act, such landings would not normally be allowed. As a short-term special use, the helicopter landings would require special permission from the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service. Citing public opposition, however, Intermountain Regional Forester Jack Troyer delayed a decision on Idaho’s request.

In a meeting on February 13, Troyer told state legislators that he supports the effort to gather data on the wolves, but the proposal would need environmental impact analysis — perhaps a full environmental impact statement. Meanwhile he said the Forest Service would support wolf collaring efforts using non-motorized methods.

In other news, the Legislature is also considering a resolution asking Interior Secretary Gale Norton to consider removing the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana from the endangered species list. Both states have wolf management plans that meet the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The wolf population has already met the biological goals of recovery. Earlier this month the agency announced plans to craft a delisting plan for wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, but Wyoming doesn’t yet have an approved wolf management plan, which has delayed the process.

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