Gray wolves transplanted to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho wilderness areas three and a half years ago are multiplying fast - but so are the concerns of Idaho hunting guides, who say the wolves are killing too many elk.
the wolf recovery program goes on unchecked, it will put us out of
business," said Scott Farr, the owner of Wilderness Outfitters in
Challis, Idaho. "Ranchers and sportsmen may have to unite and
remove the wolf."
His comments received a
standing ovation at the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association
conference in Boise in early January.
now more than 200 wolves in Yellowstone and Idaho, up from the 14
animals transplanted from Canada in 1995. Wolves feed on elk about
80 percent of the time, and they are thriving in Idaho, which has
the second-largest elk herd in the country after
The shrinking elk herds may cost the
state's hunting outfitters as much as $1 million a year, says Ed
Bangs of the Fish and Wildlife Service. But he adds that wolves
have been an economic windfall to the area, estimating that
wolf-recovery efforts will buoy tourism in Montana, Wyoming, and
Idaho by $20 million each year.
Kerry Murphy, a
biologist at Yellowstone National Park, told outfitters at the
conference that elk populations will eventually bounce back as wolf
numbers begin to level off.
Still, Idaho big-game
manager Lon Cook says resentment among outfitters is on the rise.
"Before we had wolves, hunters didn't have anyone to blame except
themselves if they didn't get an elk," he says. "Now they can blame