A cooperative of sportsmen in northern Idaho is paying trappers to kill wolves to help both the state Fish and Game Department and hunters manage wolf populations.
The Foundation For Wildlife Management is a group of hunters that works closely with Fish and Game officials to get the wolf populations to a manageable level. They pay their members up to $500 per wolf trapped and killed. Membership for the group costs $35 per trapper.
Wolves are a concern to both the state fish and game department and sportsmen alike because they are reducing elk, moose and deer herds.
“I think for $35 a year I can afford to pay a trapper to go and trap wolves for my benefit,” foundation board member Jim McDermott told the Missoulian. “It’s an expense fee. It’s an enticement to get hunters and trappers out there, and it’s working.”
An Effective Yet Costly Method
The Missoulian reported that wolf trappers have a 25 percent success rate killing wolves, compared to wolf hunters who have a success rate of less than one percent. While trapping can be more effective, it is a time-consuming and expensive method of managing wolf populations. That’s why group has created the $500 incentive for trappers.
Last year, the cooperative had 300 members in region, and wrote 22 checks to members who trapped and killed wolves.
The Foundation For Wildlife is looking to expand their reach throughout the region, but they will have to deal with a public that is highly sensitive to killing wolves. While the cooperative works closely with the state Fish and Game, and does not violate state hunting laws, they will likely be met with contention among environmentalists.
Last December in Salmon, Idaho, a controversial wolf and coyote hunting derby took place that ignited a nationwide debate among environmentalists and hunters. In that event, hunters killed 21 coyotes but no wolves. Elsewhere in the state, Idaho Fish and Game is paying a trapper to kill wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, which some environmental groups have contested.
Read more about the controversial wolf hunt in Salmon, Idaho.
Despite the negative reaction from environmentalists, wildlife officials and sportsmen agree that trapping is an effective method.
“Nowhere does Fish and Game intend to eliminate wolves from the landscape,” Jim Unsworth, deputy director of Fish and Game’s Boise office, said. “But we do believe we can reduce wolf populations and see a response that will be positive for elk and sportsmen can be positive for wolf populations too.”