Trappers catch a lot more than wolves

by Jodi Peterson

As the feds handed management of gray wolves to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming over the last few years, reactions were mixed. Conservationists worried that wolf numbers would plummet, while hunters and trappers were thrilled they'd get to legally pursue the predators. All three states have hunting seasons now. Idaho started allowing wolf trapping last year; this year, Montana had its first season.

Despite mandatory state-run education classes, though, trappers have been catching a lot more than wolves -- mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, eagles, fishers, deer, moose, even family pets. Hikers and skiers have encountered wolf traps on public lands close to trails. In January, a National Park Service employee accidentally stepped into one, just outside Glacier National Park; the next month, a dog got three of its legs caught in two different traps at once south of Livingston, Mont. Below are some figures from Idaho's 2011-2012 wolf trapping season. (Complete data from the current season aren't yet available for either state.)

123 Total wolves trapped

143 Number of people who reported setting traps for wolves *

557; 111 Greatest number of wolf snares set in one night in one game-management unit; foothold traps set *

45; 33 White-tailed deer caught; released alive *

45; 1 Coyotes caught; released alive *

9; 3 Mountain lions caught; released alive *

9; 7 Domestic pets caught; released alive *

39; 22 Other non-target animals caught, including bobcats, geese, skunks, raccoons, golden eagles and ravens; released alive *

$37,115 to $1,256,966 Estimated monetary value of one Northern Rockies wolf **

$38.25; $333.50 Cost for license and tag to trap one wolf for Idaho residents; for nonresidents

* Based on responses to a survey sent to 460 people who took Idaho's wolf trapper education class and purchased a 2011-2012 trapping license.

** according to 2011 Duke University study

Sources: Idaho Fish and Game Department, Duke University.

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