By JEFF BARNARD | Associated Press
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A second GPS-collared wolf from Oregon has been killed by a hunter in Idaho.
Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Mike Demick confirmed Thursday that the 2-year-old female known as OR-17 was shot March 2, about a week after leaving Oregon.
He says the wolf was shot legally by a hunter in Lawyers Canyon about 70 miles south of Lewiston. It crossed into Idaho by swimming the Snake River on Feb. 24.
"He was out coyote hunting," said Demick. "It kind of surprised him. He said, 'Well ... wolf season is open, I've got a wolf tag, and here's a wolf.'"
The area is prime wolf habitat, but it is not currently occupied by a pack, though there are some in the area, he added.
The wolf was a member of the Imnaha pack, the first to breed in Oregon from wolves that migrated from Idaho after their reintroduction in the 1990s. It was fitted with a GPS tracking collar by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and turned loose in February 2012, after getting inadvertently caught in a coyote trap. A young male wolf from the pack, OR-9, was shot in Idaho in February 2012. Young wolves regularly leave their packs in search of a mate and a new territory. At last count, Oregon had 64 wolves, up from 48 in 2012. Four of the eight packs, all located in northeastern Oregon, successfully produced pups.
Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild says the killing underscores how states differ in their approach to wolves. Another migrating wolf from the Imnaha pack, OR-7, has become an international celebrity after trekking more than 1,000 miles across Oregon and Northern California in search of a mate since 2011.
"When gray whales were taken off the endangered species list, they didn't reopen whaling centers on the coast," he said. "We didn't have hunts for bald eagles to reduce them to minimum populations. When it comes to wolves, we treat them differently. That's what we are seeing in Idaho."
More than 900 wolves have been killed in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes since Endangered Species Act protections were lifted in 2011. In Idaho, more than 260 wolves have been killed by hunters and trappers since the start of wolf season last Aug. 30.