Idaho Wolf Population Down Hundreds in 2022 vs the Previous Year
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-The number of wolves in Idaho has fallen by 13 percent according to the latest estimates from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). In the latest survey, biologists with the department estimated there were 1,337 wolves in the Gem State in 2022, down 206 animals, from the last estimate released in 2021 which estimated 1,543. In 2020 there were an estimated 1,556 and in 2019 an estimated 1,545 wolves.
Idaho Wolf Population Heading in the Right Direction, According to Fish and Game Managers
Wildlife managers said the trend is in line with the state's management plan to reduce the population to help prevent wolf and livestock conflicts in addition to balancing the population to help its prey, mainly elk. “We are encouraged by efforts that have resulted in a drop in wolf numbers, and this aligns with our long-term goal to reduce Idaho’s wolf population. We’d like to see it fluctuate around 500, which is outlined in our draft wolf management plan and aligns with the federal rule that delisted wolves,” Idaho Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said in a statement.
Idaho Fish and Game is trying to reduce its wolf population as is laid out in its long-term management plan. The goal is to get the number of wolves to 500, which is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species Act suggests. IDFG said that would bring the number of conflicts down with livestock but still maintain a sustainable population of the predator. The agency will release a draft management plan, open for public comment, in February that will show how it plans to move forward with wolf management.
Artificial Intelligence Used to Count Idaho Wolf Population
Biologists used a combination of cameras and software to estimate the number of wolves for the survey. Between July and August of 2022, workers placed 533 cameras around the state which captured roughly 10 million photographs. Artificial intelligence software was then used to go through the photos and combined that with mathematical modeling to come up with the estimate. "Between 2019 and 2021, summer population estimates have averaged 1,548 animals, and 516 of those died on average each year or about 33% of the annual population," said IDFG in a statement. The mortality rate for 2022 was behind the previous years despite the Idaho Legislature changing the means by which the animals can be killed. IDFG said most wolves are killed by hunters and trappers while some are killed through depredation efforts by conservation officers.