The Magic Valley office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game last Wednesday unveiled plans to extend the wolf-hunting season on public lands in western and southern Blaine County from 11 months to year-round starting this summer.
The office is also hoping to move back the start date for public-land wolf trapping in two game units that hem in sections of southern Blaine County—Game Units 52 and 52A—from mid-October to mid-September, adding a month to the season.
Game Unit 52 includes the Little Wood drainage and Magic Reservoir, while Game Unit 52A includes Craters of the Moon National Monument.
The proposed trapping expansion would bring the five-and-a-half-month public-land wolf-trapping season in Units 52 and 52A in line with the six-and-a-half-month season already in place in Game Unit 36, which includes the northern tip of the county and Stanley.
The end result would be a legal foothold trapping season on public lands in both the southernmost and northernmost sections of Blaine County from Sept. 10, 2023 to March 31, 2024. To date, wolf trapping on public BLM and Forest Service land has been banned in Game Units 48 and 49, which cover the Wood River Valley.
If Fish and Game’s hunting side of the proposal is successful, on the other hand, a year-round wolf hunt will be the law of the land across all public and private lands in Blaine County.
Currently, anyone wishing to hunt wolves on public land can do so year-round in Game Unit 49, which includes the Pioneer Range on the eastern side of state Highway 75, and in Unit 36. But, public-land wolf hunting in Game Unit 48—which runs along the western side of state Highway 75 up to Galena Summit—is closed during the month of July. The same goes for Game Units 52 and 52A.
Later this spring, the Fish and Game Commission—the Department of Fish and Game’s seven-member oversight body—will need to evaluate both hunting and trapping proposals, as it does every two years.
Before any final decisions are made, though, Fish and Game will take public comment online and over the phone through Feb. 22, 2023. The department said it will particularly value comments that provide specific references and “points of support, concern or omission.”
Anyone can comment on the proposals by visiting https://idfg.idaho.gov/node/129578 and clicking “support” or “do not support,” and then explaining their choice.
Comments can also be entered into the public record by calling 208-324-4359 and speaking with a department representative.
Local trapping ban slated to stay in place
Ever since gray wolves were officially turned over to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in 2011 for management as “game animals,” the state has served as a test case for state superintendence of wolves.
In a virtual presentation last Thursday, Leon Burman, senior wildlife technician with Fish and Game’s Magic Valley office, said that statewide wolf harvest has fluctuated between 400-500 wolves per year and has continued to increase since 2013.
In the Wood River Valley, fewer than 20 wolves have been hunted or trapped on an annual basis for the past decade, contributing to a “relatively small” portion of the statewide total, he said.
For instance, Burman said 16 wolves were hunted in the broader Magic Valley Region last year, up from 11 in 2021 and 12 in 2020. The zone includes Blaine County, Cassia County, Lincoln County and Twin Falls county.
“The Magic Valley Region offers opportunities to hunt and trap wolves in a similar fashion to most of the state, with liberal private and public-land seasons,” he said.
Blaine County’s game units 48 and 49 are the only two in Idaho where trapping is outlawed on public land.
That’s despite efforts from Fish and Game and other sporting-interest groups, like the Fairfield-based Idaho Trappers Association, to start up a trapping season in the two units. (The bid was withdrawn in 2019 after residents and county leaders voiced concerns over pets, children and other wildlife interacting with traps, and has been rejected ever since.)
However, wolf trapping using foothold traps has remained legal on public lands in units 52, 52A and Game Unit 36—the latter which spans from Galena Summit to Pettit Lake and includes popular Sawtooth National Recreation Area hiking trails like the Alturas Lake Creek trail and the Alice Toxaway Loop—and is slated to stay that way.
“These [hunting and trapping proposals] are…intended to provide additional opportunity, as well as to make seasons across Idaho more uniform,” Burman said.
Information available on other big-game proposals
In December, Fish and Game announced a suite of other proposed changes to its moose and mountain goat hunting regulations for the 2023-2024 hunting season.
The department intends to scale up the number of available bull moose permits from three to five across the Sawtooth National Forest, with four tags specifically available in the Wood River Valley.
“Continued nuisance complaints” and issues with fence entanglements and vehicle collisions indicate “a growing moose population with additional opportunity available” in Hunt Area 44, which includes the Wood River Valley as well as the Pioneer Mountains, Smoky Mountains, Boulder Mountains, Soldier Mountains and Boise Mountains, according to Fish and Game.
The department is also hoping to add three new mountain goat permits in units west of Ketchum and east of Hailey next fall.
More details on Fish and Game’s wolf-hunting and wolf-trapping proposals for local Game Units 48, 52 and 52A—as well as its recent moose-hunting and mountain lion-hunting proposals—will be shared from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Community Campus in Hailey.
Magic Valley Office Regional Supervisor Craig White will field questions at the open house, according to the department.
For more on Idaho’s six-year wolf management plan and wolf mortality statistics, check back with mtexpress.com. ￼
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Don’t bother posting here. Post where it matters: https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/big-game/region/wolf?r=9818
This is an annual exercise to garner the support of a small group of people who don’t seem to care how cruel they are. All trapping needs to be banned statewide, but especially here in Blaine County where there is zero support for it. This is being done for people that don’t even live in our county.
I live in Blaine County and support trapping. I am not the only one. Stop spreading lies. They start by banning trapping and then they start working on banning hunting and trapping because that is the next thing that is "cruel". Then they reintroduce the hunting season because wildlife/human interactions go up (see NJ bear hunting season).
Idaho F &G doesn't seem to care what the majority want. They are barbaric in their approach to "game management." Can't we get our representatives to bring this up in Boise and end all this?
Trapping should be completely outlawed in Idaho. A small special interest group keeps trapping alive at the risk of harming the thousands of people and pets who recreate on public lands. Why does F and G do the bidding of a few hundred people while putting thousands at risk. It does not make any sense.
Seriously...what type of person goes out and lays a trap to kill a wolf? Seems a bit (well, very) blood thirsty to me. It's not 1850 anymore. It makes no sense at all.
Welcome to the discussion.