The Idaho Fish and Game Commission turned down a petition Thursday aiming to alert trail users to active wolf-hunting zones and require trappers to place signs at trailheads and campgrounds within 25 feet of traps and snares.
Authored by Suzanne Stone of the Wood River Wolf Project, Garrick Dutcher of Living With Wolves in Ketchum and two other Idaho-based conservationists, the petition’s goal was to help trail users and accompanying children or dogs avoid unintentional injury.
“Most Idahoans are unaware that trappers are legally allowed to place traps so close to public trails and campgrounds,” it read. “They are also unaware of the procedures for safely removing a dog from a leghold or body-gripping trap or snare.”
The Fish and Game Commission denied the petition last week after deeming its sign requests unnecessary and burdensome, according to a press release. The commission’s six members found an “absence of risk to other recreationalists” and cited “regulatory and voluntary measures already in place to ensure safety.” They concluded that regulated trapping in Idaho generally presents limited risk to domestic dogs.
Another section of the petition requested visible signs in active wolf hunting zones from April 1 to Aug. 30. In mid-February, the commission expanded wolf hunting across the state, opening up year-round hunts in most of Idaho’s game units and approving 11-month seasons in others. The primary objective for that expansion was to decrease wolf predation on livestock and elk herds, the commission said.
According to the petition, Idaho’s extended hunting season will place hunters in the woods during summer camping and hiking seasons, raising the risk that a child or family dog could be accidentally injured or killed.
“This increases the risk to livestock guardian dogs and herding dogs as well,” the petition said. “It also increases the risk of fires with added ammunition discharges during the summer dry season.”
However, the commission said that shots fired to kill wolves during that time period presented little or no additional risk to campers or hikers. Dog owners can take precautions to clearly distinguish their dog from a wolf, the commission said.
The commission also noted that mandatory hunter and trapper education courses address how they should avoid conflicts with other users.
Also considered during the May 14 meeting was a petition to allow bowhunters to use lighted nocks, or signals used to identify where an arrow hits. According to the press release, the commission had considered a similar proposal in 2014, and decided at the meeting that technological advances for primitive weapons—including compound and recurve bows—should be limited.