Idaho Fish and Game officials said so far, since the passage of Senate Bill 1211 encouraging the harvesting of more wolves in the state, there hasn’t been a measurable uptick in hunters seeking wolf trapping licenses.
Gov. Brad Little signed the measure in May that could lead to killing 90% of the state’s 1,500 wolves through expanded trapping and hunting. It took effect July 1. Wildlife advocates last week petitioned U.S. Fish and Wildlife to restore federal protections for wolves throughout the West.
Wolf trapper education classes are being offered in eastern Idaho at three Fish and Game regional office locations at the end of August: The Southeast, Upper Snake and Salmon regions.
“We have not yet seen an uptick in the number of students since Senate Bill 1211 passed,” said Bill Seybold, state trapper education coordinator with Fish and Game. “It went into effect July 1, so it’s a little bit early to tell for sure. We generally don’t have a lot of interest in trapper ed and wolf trapper ed over the course of the summer. … We still have vacancies in most of the classes.”
Seybold said interest in trapping increases in the fall and winter when it’s not as hot, and animal pelts are in their prime.
“We restarted trapper ed and wolf trapper ed in August of last year,” Seybold said. “We saw a tremendous uptick in the number of people taking classes before Senate Bill 1211. That was probably something to do with COVID. People were like I got to get out. That’s just speculation.”
Pre-registration is required for those interested in taking wolf trapping classes and can be done online at idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/education. The cost of each class is $9.75. Two wolf trapper classes are offered at each regional office.
Southeast Regional Office, 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello
• Thursday, Aug 26, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
• Friday, Aug 27, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Upper Snake Regional Office, 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls
• Saturday, Aug 28, 8 a.m. – noon
• Saturday, Aug 28, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Salmon Regional Office, 99 Highway 93 North, Salmon
• Sunday, Aug 29, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
• Monday, Aug 30, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Seybold said more classes will be added later in the year depending on interest.
“Anyone intending to trap wolves in Idaho must attend wolf trapper education prior to setting wolf traps,” said Jennifer Jackson, of Fish and Game. “Anyone intending to trap wolves that did not hold an Idaho trapping license prior to 2011 is required to take both trapper and wolf-trapper education. So, if that applies to you, check for upcoming trapper education classes as well.”
The classes are offered in two formats, a 4-hour version and an 8-hour version. Either one offers certification. “The longer class option allows for more discussion about techniques and affords time for trap setting demonstrations,” Jackson said.
James Brower, at the Idaho Falls Fish and Game office, said he has not noticed a “measurable increase” in interest from people wanting a wolf trapping license since the passage of Senate Bill 1211.
“It’s a pretty hard activity to participate in,” Brower said. “It can be expensive. It takes a lot of time and effort to trap a wolf so there’s just not that many people willing to do it. Traps can be spendy, and there’s fuel and access to the places and checking those sites regularly. In Idaho, it’s every 72 hours.”
Senate Bill 1211 was backed by trappers and the ranching sector but heavily criticized by environmental advocates. The purpose was to cut the number of wolves to 150 to reduce attacks on livestock and boost deer and elk herds. The new law also allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves and provides more money for state officials to hire the contractors. The law expands killing methods to include trapping and snaring wolves on a single hunting tag, using night-vision equipment, chasing wolves on snowmobiles and ATVs and shooting them from helicopters. It also authorizes year-round wolf trapping on private property.
“Right when the bill passed and went into effect, we had a number of people say when are you going to hold the next wolf class?” Seybold said. “We haven’t seen it yet with registrations with the classes. It’s not the massive bump like we thought we might see.”
For information on wolf trapping classes, contact regional Fish and Game offices in Pocatello at 208-232-4703, Idaho Falls at 208-525-7290, or Salmon at 208-756-2271.