Idaho Fish and Game, with assistance from USDA Wildlife Services recently completed wolf control actions in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone to improve elk survival in the area.

Wildlife Services agents used a helicopter to kill 20 wolves during the operation. The operation, which started last week, is consistent with Fish and Game’s Elk Management Plan and Lolo Predation Management Plan.

The Lolo elk population has declined substantially over the last 25 years, dropping from 16,000 elk to fewer than 1,000 today. Wolf control actions have been conducted in the area for the last five years. In 2014, 19 wolves were killed and 23 were removed in 2013.

Fish and Game prefers to manage wolf populations using hunters and trappers and only authorizes control actions where regulated harvest has been insufficient to meet management goals. The Lolo zone is steep, rugged country that’s difficult to access, especially in winter. With 20 wolves harvested — 10 by hunters, 10 by trappers — that puts Idaho’s total for the season at 193 total wolves harvested — 125 by hunters, 68 by trappers —   as of Feb. 10. Trapping season ends March 31 and hunting season ends June 30.