While state fish and game officials continue to smooth out remaining details for this fall’s wolf hunting season, sales of wolf tags continue to slump.
Tag sales are considerably lower this spring compared to those sold in Idaho’s first wolf season, which ran from fall 2009 through spring 2010. Then, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game sold more than 30,000 tags.
By the end of June 2011, two months after this year’s tags went on sale, only 3,100 had been sold throughout the state. That’s less than Idahoans snapped up in the first day of sales in 2009.
Contributing to the slower sales is the fact that wolf hunting is no longer a novelty — and that hunters now know it takes some work.
“I think people are realizing that wolf hunting is hard, much harder than what people thought it was going to be,” said Filer resident Jack Oyler, state vice-chairman for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho.
However, Oyler said the lag could also be attributed to the lack of details that have been released about the coming wolf season. So far, wildlife officials have just said they plan to hold a hunt and will propose lifting wolf quotas across much of the state. More details are expected this week.
“They’re expecting people to buy tags without knowing when or if there will be a season,” Oyler said. “They’re also expecting them to buy tags without knowing the quotas or details of the hunt. It makes sense sales are down.”
Oyler bought a wolf tag this year for the first time.
“They’re cheap, so you know that people aren’t (not) buying them because of the cost,” he said.
Wolf tags are sold for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $186 for non-residents at Fish and Game offices and other contracted outlets.
For some environmental groups, the slower tag sales could indicate a shift in hunters’ attitudes towards the wolf.
“Hopefully, fewer tag sales shows that this supposed hatred of having wolves in the area is not as intense as it was in the past,” said Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife Northern Rocky Mountains representative.
This will be just the state’s second public wolf hunt since the animals were reintroduced in 1995. The last season began in September 2009 and was extended to the end of March 2010. During that time, 188 wolves were killed out of a statewide quota of 220.
Fish and Game officials plan to release their detailed wolf season proposal later this week, spokesman Niels Nokkentved said, though he did not have an exact date.
“We thought it was going to be released Tuesday but officials are still quibbling about some of the final details,” he said.
Once released, he said, Fish and Game will accept public comments on the proposal until the state Fish and Game Commission takes a look at it later this month.