(KLIX)- Idaho wildlife officials say seven wolves were killed in the northern part of the state to help boost elk populations. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game the seven wolves were taken during an operation that began in February in the Lolo elk zone.

The agency says the operation was paid for with funds transferred from the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board, which the Idaho Legislature recently extended the life of the board. Fish and Game said in a statement they normally would prefer to use hunters and trappers as a control method, but the Lolo area is geographically difficult to access, especially in the winter.

Officials say control actions were needed because of low elk populations in the area; in the early 90's there were more than 10,000 elk, in 2017 Fish and Game estimated only 1,800. The decline is attributed to declining vegetative quality, a hard winter in the late 90's, and predation by mountain lions, black bears and wolves. Fish and Game has also increased the harvest opportunities for bears and mountain lions in the area.

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