The Wolf Intelligencer

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir



Montana / Idaho / Wyoming / Utah / Colorado

Wolves in State & National Parks and Protected Areas in Idaho
Nez Perce National Forest
Clearwater National Forest
Idaho Panhandle National Forests (Kaniksu National Forest, Coeur d’Alene National Forest, St. Joe National Forest)
Yellowstone National Park
Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area
Dworshak State Park

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)
Northwestern Gray Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis)
Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus irremotus)

Population Statistics [786 wolves, 108 packs, 33 breeding pairs (2015), est. 1000 (2020)

Legal Status; state managed by Idaho Department of Fish and Game as of May 5, 2011

U S Fish and Wildlife Service (Grey wolves in Northern Rocky Mountains)
Idaho Fish and Game – Wolves in Idaho
Idaho Fish and Game – Wolf Management Background
Is there a difference between a Idaho Grey Wolf and a Northern Canadian Wolf
Wood River Wolf Project (WRWP)

Idaho Organizations
The Wolf Recovery Foundation  (Pocatello, Idaho)
Living With Wolves (Sun Valley, Idaho)
Advocates for the West (Boise, Idaho; Portland, Oregon)
Friends of the Clearwater (Moscow, Idaho)
The Wood River Wolf Project (Hailey, Idaho)
International Wolf Center – Idaho

Idaho News Resources & Publications
Local News 8 (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Coeur d’Alene Press (Coeur d’Alene,  Idaho) (Twin Falls)


Wolf And Wildlife News From Idaho

Journal Articles

In the Shadow of the Wolf: Wildlife Conflict and Land Use Politics in the New West (Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley). Martin, J.V., 2020.


Federal reintroduction of gray wolves (Canis lupus) to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho in the mid-1990s was widely hailed as one of the great conservation successes of the 20th century, and has become an emblematic touchstone for rewilding – an emerging discourse and set of practices for conservation in the Anthropocene. As wolves have grown in number and range, however, so too has socio-political conflict, particularly around predation as threat to livestock production. Reaction appears to far exceed wolves’ material impacts, however, and persists 25 years after reintroduction despite development and deployment of compensation measures and coexistence strategies. The wolf is thus also an exemplary instance of human-wildlife conflict, an increasingly prominent and intractable concern for megafauna conservation around the world. And while volumes have been written on wolves in Yellowstone, there has been relatively little scholarly attention to Idaho even as it highlights the challenges of shared space across the working landscapes of the American West. Between 2015 and 2018, I conducted a case study of the Wood River Wolf Project (WRWP), a collaboration between sheep ranchers, environmental organizations, and governmental agencies in Blaine County, Idaho that has pursued wolf-livestock coexistence for over a decade. Grazing thousands of sheep on its project area in the Sawtooth Mountains while boasting the lowest depredation loss rates in the state, the WRWP has garnered international attention as a model of nonlethal management, holding out the possibility of a peaceful end to the wolf wars. Based in ethnographic and archival research and drawing insights from political ecology and critical “more-than-human” geography, I ask what we might learn from this critical case, guided by two overarching questions: First, how can we account for the persistence and seemingly disproportionate intensity of conflict surrounding wolves in the American West? And second, what are the necessary preconditions for and obstacles to scaling up and sustaining collaborative coexistence? In the included articles, I explore the Project’s emergence and practices and how these have evolved over time, as partners have contended with political economic pressures and the delisting of wolves from federal protection and transition to Idaho state management. I highlight the value of qualitative research methods for questions of human-wildlife conflict, and the fundamentally situated and relational quality of risk perception and decision-making. I argue that anti-wolf hostility cannot be read simply as cultural-historical animosity, nor as mere biopolitical concern over an agricultural pest, but rather must be understood amid so-called “New West” transitions and ongoing legal-political tensions over the governance and use of public lands. This story stresses the inseparability of political economic, cultural-symbolic, and environmental concerns, connecting the wolf question to regional transformations, divergent land use priorities, and contemporary right-wing populism. I show how the political-symbolic enrollment of wolves by different social actors through a cultural politics of wilderness in fact perpetuates polarization and undermines on-the-ground efforts at coexistence between conservation and rural livelihoods – even as I highlight alternative political possibilities around themes of commoning and convivial conservation.

*WI NOTES “cultural politics of wilderness in fact perpetuates polarization and undermines on-the-ground efforts at coexistence between conservation and rural livelihood”


Combining Harvest and Genetics to Estimate Reproduction in Wolves. Clendenin HR, Adams JR, Ausband DE, Hayden JA, Hohenlohe PA, Waits LP. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 2020 Jan


Parameters of reproductive success are important to the management of wildlife populations.Genetic monitoring can be an effective approach for acquiring this important demographic information when traditional methods are unsuccessful, inefficient, or too expensive. This study demonstrates a novel application of genetic data opportunistically collected from harvested game to estimate a minimum annual count of breeding packs of gray wolves (Canis lupus) and to provide a coarse index of harvest vulnerability of young of the year (YOY) across packs. We used 18 microsatellite loci to genotype 98 gray wolf YOY from 2014 and 105 from 2015 harvested in Idaho, USA. Using this genotype data, we reconstructed sibling groups for each cohort using the program COLONY and treated full‐sibling litters as proxies for unique packs. In addition to evaluating our marker panel using simulations, we assessed the accuracy of empirical relationship assignments by adding YOY of known relationship from long‐term study packs to the dataset(27 individuals from 2014 and 61 from 2015) and tracking correctly reconstructed relationships. We varied COLONY input parameters to evaluate the power of relationship assignments under conditions that maybe encountered when working with empirical data. We also compared COLONY’s estimates of effective number of breeders based on sibship frequency to estimates based on a commonly used linkage‐disequilibrium method. All COLONY runs for both cohorts correctly identified the known sibling relationships. Among the other individuals, changes in the geographic clustering of putative siblings, probabilities of inclusion and exclusion for reconstructed sibling groups, and consistency of relationship assignments across COLONY runs suggested that marker number had a larger effect on accuracy than access to population‐level genetic data. Our estimates of breeding packs subjected to harvest within the state(52 for 2014 and 63 for 2015) differed from estimates reported by Idaho Department of Fish and Game by≤6 for both years. Among packs that had pups harvested, most packs had 1–2 YOY harvested, whereas other packs had as many as 5 YOY harvested. All estimates of the number of effective breeders had overlapping confidence intervals regardless of method, though sibship frequency‐based estimates had larger confidence intervals than estimates using the linkage disequilibrium method. Our study shows that sibling relationships can be accurately and reliably reconstructed from harvested gray wolves, and demonstrates avaluable new use of samples collected through harvest. © 2020 The Wildlife Society.

Integrated population model to improve knowledge and management of Idaho wolves Horne JS, Ausband DE, Hurley MA, Struthers J, Berg JE, Groth K. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 2019 Jan


Recently, several states in the western United States have assumed management authority of gray wolves (Canis lupus). Wolves pose a challenge for management agencies who must reconcile interests related to conservation of an ecologically important carnivore with management of a dominant predator of ungulates that are highly valued by the hunting public. Thus, managers seek reliable information on the status of wolf populations, the implications of management actions, and the effects of wolf predation on ungulates. We developed an integrated population model (IPM) for wolves in Idaho to assess their status and evaluate the effects of harvest on wolf demographics. We combined pack counts with known‐fate data from global positioning system (GPS)‐collared wolves to obtain estimates of pack size, harvest, non‐harvest mortality, dispersal, and recruitment. Our application emphasizes some of the key benefits of an IPM approach including estimation of parameters for which no direct data are available, the ability to reconstruct pack sizes during periods when count data were missing, and an evaluation of harvest effects on wolf population dynamics. Mean size of wolf packs averaged 5.5 from 2005–2016. There was a general decline in pack size from 2006–2012 with the smallest occurring in 2012, just after the 2011–2012 harvest season. Since 2012, mean pack size has increased, coinciding with a declining trend in the probability of harvest. We found no difference in mid‐year recruitment of wolves into packs during periods with versus without harvest and concluded that harvest mortality is additive to non‐harvest mortality. Thus, harvest may be an effective tool for agencies to manage wolf populations. Although our IPM was informative for wolf management, future monitoring will likely benefit from seeking less costly data sources within an IPM framework. © 2018 The Wildlife Society.

Tracking a half century of media reporting on gray wolves. Killion AK, Melvin T, Lindquist E, Carter NH. Conservation Biology. 2019


Natural resource and wildlife managers must balance the disparate priorities of a diversity of stakeholders. To manage these priorities, a firm understanding of topics salient to the public is needed. The media often report on issues of importance to the public; therefore, these reports may be a useful measure of public interest. However, efficient methods for distinguishing diverse topics related to a wildlife management issue reported in the media and changes in the salience of those topics have been lacking. We used latent Dirichlet allocation, a Bayesian mixture model, to quantitatively assess the salience of topics surrounding the gray wolf (Canis lupus), which was reintroduced to Idaho (U.S.A.) in 1995. We analyzed articles published from 1960 to 2015 in an Idaho newspaper. We identified 6 distinct topics associated with gray wolves: policy, hunting, biological status, implementation of management, recovery, and human‐wolf conflict. The salience of topics pre‐ and postreintroduction of wolves (1995) and pre‐ and postdelisting of wolves from the U.S. Endangered Species Act (2009) differed significantly, underscoring that these events were turning points in how issues were being publicly discussed and framed. Articles written by the local reporters were more likely to report on topics regarding conflict between humans and wolves, whereas articles sourced from a national outlet reported more on topics pertaining to wolf policy and biological status. In the context of managing a contentious, far‐ranging, and long‐lived wildlife species, our methods can help guide the location and timing of a suite of management strategies (e.g., media relation plans and stakeholder engagement) that promote human‐wildlife coexistence across different landscapes.

Confirmation of Echinococcus canadensis G8 and G10 in Idaho Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) and Cervids. Cerda JR, Ballweber LR. Journal of wildlife diseases. 2018 Apr


We confirm the presence of Echinococcus canadensis genotypes G8 and G10 in gray wolves (Canis lupus) and cervids in Idaho, US. Our results demonstrated that cystic echinococcosis remains a potential public health issue, indicating the need for regular deworming of domestic dogs, who often act as potential bridge hosts.

Adaptive use of nonlethal strategies for minimizing wolf–sheep conflict in Idaho, Suzanne A. Stone, Stewart W. Breck, Jesse Timberlake, Peter M. Haswell, Fernando Najera, Brian S. Bean, Daniel J. Thornhill, Journal of Mammalogy, February 2017


Worldwide, native predators are killed to protect livestock, an action that can undermine wildlife conservation efforts and create conflicts among stakeholders. An ongoing example is occurring in the western United States, where wolves (Canis lupus) were eradicated by the 1930s but are again present in parts of their historic range. While livestock losses to wolves represent a small fraction of overall livestock mortality, the response to these depredations has resulted in widespread conflicts including significant efforts at lethal wolf control to reduce impacts on livestock producers, especially those with large-scale grazing operations on public lands. A variety of nonlethal methods have proven effective in reducing livestock losses to wolves in small-scale operations but in large-scale, open-range grazing operations, nonlethal management strategies are often presumed ineffective or infeasible. To demonstrate that nonlethal techniques can be effective at large scales, we report a 7-year case study where we strategically applied nonlethal predator deterrents and animal husbandry techniques on an adaptive basis (i.e., based on terrain, proximity to den or rendezvous sites, avoiding overexposure to techniques such as certain lights or sound devices that could result in wolves losing their fear of that device, etc.) to protect sheep (Ovis aries) and wolves on public grazing lands in Idaho. We collected data on sheep depredation mortalities in the protected demonstration study area and compared these data to an adjacent wolf-occupied area where sheep were grazed without the added nonlethal protection measures. Over the 7-year period, sheep depredation losses to wolves were 3.5 times higher in the Nonprotected Area (NPA) than in the Protected Area (PA). Furthermore, no wolves were lethally controlled within the PA and sheep depredation losses to wolves were just 0.02% of the total number of sheep present, the lowest loss rate among sheep-grazing areas in wolf range statewide, whereas wolves were lethally controlled in the NPA. Our demonstration project provides evidence that proactive use of a variety of nonlethal techniques applied conditionally can help reduce depredation on large open-range operations.

Dog days of summer: influences on decision of wolves to move pups. Ausband DE, Mitchell MS, Bassing SB, Nordhagen M, Smith DW, Stahler DR. Journal of Mammalogy. 2016 Jul


For animals that forage widely, protecting young from predation can span relatively long time periods due to the inability of young to travel with and be protected by their parents. Moving relatively immobile young to improve access to important resources, limit detection of concentrated scent by predators, and decrease infestations by ectoparasites can be advantageous. Moving young, however, can also expose them to increased mortality risks (e.g., accidents, getting lost, predation). For group-living animals that live in variable environments and care for young over extended time periods the influence of biotic factors (e.g., group size, predation risk) and abiotic factors (e.g., temperature and precipitation) on the decision to move young is unknown. We used data from 25 satellite-collared wolves (Canis lupus) in Idaho, Montana, and Yellowstone National Park to evaluate how these factors could influence the decision to move pups during the pup-rearing season. We hypothesized that litter size, the number of adults in a group, and perceived predation risk would positively affect the number of times gray wolves moved pups. We further hypothesized that wolves would move their pups more often when it was hot and dry to ensure sufficient access to water. Contrary to our hypothesis, monthly temperature above the 30-year average was negatively related to the number of times wolves moved their pups. Monthly precipitation above the 30-year average, however, was positively related to the amount of time wolves spent at pup-rearing sites after leaving the natal den. We found little relationship between risk of predation (by grizzly bears, humans, or conspecifics) or group and litter sizes and number of times wolves moved their pups. Our findings suggest that abiotic factors most strongly influence the decision of wolves to move pups, although responses to unpredictable biotic events (e.g., a predator encountering pups) cannot be ruled out.

Gray wolf harvest in Idaho. Ausband DE. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 2016 Sep


Regulated harvest is a relatively new phenomenon for gray wolves (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Most studies of wolf harvest have been conducted in northern latitudes where wolf populations are large and human densities are low. Insights from wolf harvest in northern North America may not accurately describe wolf harvest in the lower 48 states. I assessed the efficacy of the recently (2009, 2011–2014) reinstated wolf harvest in Idaho, USA, to test whether it was selective for certain characteristics of individual wolves. I predicted that males and females would be harvested at similar rates, pups would be more common in trap than rifle harvest, most harvest would be from trapping, and harvest effort would not decline over time. Additionally, I predicted that black wolves would be selected as trophies and more frequent in rifle than trap harvest. Male wolves were more vulnerable to rifle harvest than females, pups were not more vulnerable to trapping, trapping did not comprise most of the harvest, and effort did not appear to change over time. Lastly, black wolves were not effectively targeted as trophies. I recommend continued monitoring of wolf harvest to further test harvest‐related predictions that provide insights specific to wolves and ecological systems of the conterminous United States. © 2016 The Wildlife Society.

A Participatory Mapping and Agent-Based Approach to Promote Coexistence Between Idaho Ranchers and Gray Wolves. Killion, A. and Carter, N.H., 2016

Effects of Wolf Removal on Livestock Depredation Recurrence and Wolf Recovery in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Bradley EH, Robinson HS, Bangs EE, Kunkel K, Jimenez MD, Gude JA, Grimm T. Intermountain Journal of Sciences. 2016 Dec


Wolf predation on livestock and management methods used to mitigate conflicts are highly controversial and scrutinized especially where wolf populations are recovering. Wolves are commonly removed from a local area in attempts to reduce further depredations, but the effectiveness of such management actions is poorly understood. We compared the effects of 3 management responses to livestock depredation by wolf packs in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming: no removal, partial pack removal, and full pack removal. From 1989 to 2008, we documented 967 depredations by 156 packs: 228 on sheep and 739 on cattle and other stock. Median time between recurrent depredations was 19 days following no removal (n = 593), 64 days following partial pack removal (n = 326), and 730 days following full pack removal (n = 48). Partial pack removal was most effective if conducted within the first 7 days following depredation, after which there was only a marginally significant difference between partial pack removal and no action (HR = 0.86, P = 0.07), and no difference after 14 days (HR = 0.99, P = 0.93). Ultimately, pack size was the best predictor of a recurrent depredation event; the probability of a depredation event recurring within 5 years increased by 7% for each animal left in the pack after the management response. However, the greater the number of wolves left in a pack, the higher the likelihood the pack met federal criteria to count as a breeding pair the following year toward population recovery

A long‐term population monitoring approach for a wide‐ranging carnivore: noninvasive genetic sampling of gray wolf rendezvous sites in Idaho, USA. Stansbury CR, Ausband DE, Zager P, Mack CM, Miller CR, Pennell MW, Waits LP.The Journal of Wildlife Management. 2014 Aug


Various monitoring methods have been developed for large carnivores, but not all are practical or sufficiently accurate for long‐term monitoring over large spatial scales. From 2009 to 2010, we used a predictive habitat model to locate gray wolf rendezvous sites in 4 study areas in Idaho, USA and conducted noninvasive genetic sampling (NGS) of scat and hair found at the sites. We evaluated species and individual identification PCR success rates across the study areas, and estimated population size with a single‐session population estimator using 2 different recapture‐coding methods. We then compared NGS population estimates to estimates generated concurrently from telemetry data. We collected 1,937 scat and 166 hair samples and identified 193 unique individuals over 2 years. For fecal DNA samples, species identification success rates were consistently high (>92%) across areas. Individual identification success rates ranged from 78% to 80% in the drier study areas and dropped to 50% in the wettest study area. The degree of agreement between NGS‐ and telemetry‐derived population estimates varied by recapture‐coding method with considerable variability in 95% confidence intervals. Population estimates derived from NGS methods were most influenced by the average number of detections per individual. We demonstrate how changes in field effort and recapture‐coding method can affect population estimates in a widely used single‐session population estimation model. Our study highlights the need to further develop reliable population estimation tools for single‐session NGS data, especially those with large differences in capture frequencies among individuals stemming from severe capture heterogeneity (i.e., overdispersion). © 2014 The Wildlife Society.

Livestock depredation by wolves and the ranching economy in the Northwestern US. Muhly TB, Musiani M. Ecological Economics. 2009 Jun


Due primarily to wolf predation on livestock (depredation), some groups oppose wolf (Canis lupus) conservation in the Northwestern U.S., which is an objective for large sectors of the public. Livestock depredation by wolves is a cost of wolf conservation borne by livestock producers, which creates conflict between producers, wolves and organizations involved in wolf conservation and management. Compensation is the main tool used to mitigate the costs of depredation, but this tool may be limited at improving tolerance for wolves. Furthermore, livestock production may in fact provide indirectly an important benefit for wolf conservation – i.e. a positive externality, by maintaining relatively intact habitat on private lands. We analyzed some of the costs of livestock depredation by wolves to livestock producers relative to recent economic trends in the livestock production industry, specifically income generated from livestock production and trends in land and livestock value. Data were gathered from depredation investigations, from the livestock compensation program and on land and livestock price in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, U.S.A. from 1987 to 2003 – a period during which wolves had endangered species status. We found that instigation of attacks on livestock by wolves was determined by need for food, but wolves may kill sheep in excess of food needs. Excessive killing of livestock may contribute significantly to intolerance for wolves. Livestock killed by wolves cost producers approximately $11,076.49 per year between 1987 and 2003, although costs were increasing linearly (R2 = 0.789, P < 0.001). Each year such costs accounted for < 0.01% of the annual gross income from livestock operations in the region. Thus, wolf depredation is a small economic cost to the industry, although it may be a significant cost to affected producers as these costs are not equitably distributed across the industry. Compensation for depredation was efficient when compared to other regions. Land prices increased steadily throughout the study period (R2 = 0.966, P < 0.001), while the price of cattle decreased (R2 = 0.749, P < 0.001). We maintain that conservation groups should consider the potential consequences of all of these economic trends. Specifically, declining cattle price and the steady increase in land price might induce conversion of agricultural land to rural-residential developments, which could negatively impact wolf conservation via large scale habitat change and increased human presence.

Effects of wolves on livestock calf survival and movements in central Idaho. Oakleaf JK, Mack C, Murray DL. The Journal of wildlife management. 2003 Apr


We examined interactions between wolves (Canis lupus) and domestic calves (Bos tauras) within a grazing allotment in central Idaho, USA, to evaluate the role of wolves on calf survival and movements. During the 1999 and 2000 grazing seasons, we radiomarked 231 calves/year-representing 33% of the calf population-on the Diamond Moose Association (DMA) grazing allotment and monitored their survival and movements relative to wolf distribution. Overall, calf survival was high (≥95%), with relatively few mortalities (n = 13) among the marked population. Of the 13 calf mortalities, 8 were unrelated to predation (pneumonia, unknown natural causes, fire), 4 were wolf predation, and 1 was coyote predation. Calves selected by wolves were younger than the surviving cohort by an average of 24 days (wolf-killed: 31 Mar ± 13 days [mean birthdate ± SE], n = 4; live population: 7 Mar ± 1.6 days, n = 207; P < 0.05). Calf movement patterns and group size did not vary relative to the level of spatial overlap with wolves. However, vulnerability to predation appeared to be correlated with spatial proximity of calves to wolf home ranges and rendezvous sites. These results suggest that in our study area, the overall impact of wolves was not significant on either calf survival or behavior.

Outcomes of hard and soft releases of reintroduced wolves in central Idaho and the Greater Yellowstone Area. Fritts SH, Mack CM, Smith DW, Murphy KM, Phillips MK, Jimenez MD, Bangs EE, Fontaine JA, Niemeyer CC, Brewster WG, Kaminski TJ. Large Mammal Restoration. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA. 2001 Oct

Wolves, politics, and the Nez Perce: Wolf recovery in central Idaho and the role of native tribes. Wilson PI. Natural Resources Journal. 1999 Jul

Planning and implementing a reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. Fritts SH, Bangs EE, Fontaine JA, Johnson MR, Phillips MK, Koch ED, Gunson JR. Restoration ecology. 1997 Mar



%d bloggers like this: