Wolves were reintroduced into Idaho in the 1990s. Now, a battle is raging on whether they should stay.
An article published by UPI says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced 35 wolves from Canada and another 35 wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Current population estimates range between 684 and 786 wolves, and livestock ranchers are concerned over livestock death loss.
Royce Schwenkfelder, chairman of the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission, said in a June newspaper column cited by UPI an estimated 980 cattle, 3,150 sheep and 53 guard dogs have been killed by wolves since 1995.
Cattle are not the only species impacted by the growing wolf population. UPI reports wild elk populations fell from 10,000 in the Lolo Elk Zone in Idaho to 1,900.
Mark Hurley, wildlife research manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, told UPI wildlife experts are using 800 game cameras recording to count wolves across the state. With images captured every 10 minutes from July to September, researchers are using computer software to process approximately 12 million images.
This is the first time in five years Idaho wolves have been counted, but it is not without controversy.
Talasi Brooks, an attorney with environmental advocacy group Western Watersheds told UPI, “They’re only counting wolves now because they want to kill them.”
Environmental groups in 2016 filed a lawsuit to stop the state of Idaho from working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to kill wolves, UPI reports.
Carter Niemeyer, a Boise resident, author and wolf expert, told UPI debate on the best solution is polarized.
“Most folks either like wolves or hate them, and you don’t see many people changing their minds,” Niemeyer said.