States' Status Update On Wolf-Elk Relationship: It's Complicated

By Jessica Robinson

The presence of wolves may mean hunters can't count on finding elk in favorite hunting spots … but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer elk. That was the message from wildlife managers in three Northwest states Thursday in an online public meeting.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife asked managers from Montana and Idaho to dish out some advice from their experience trying to find a balance among prey like deer and elk, wolves, and hunters.

Jon Rachael in Idaho says his state has found wolves make elk move around more.

Jon Rachael: “You can expect that you're not going to find elk holding tight the way you had in the past as wolves move into Washington.”

Rachael says wolves are taking a toll on the elk population in some parts of Idaho. But over in Montana, wildlife managers say hunters often face bigger competition from cougars, grizzly bears and even black bears.

Washington game manager Dave Ware says so far, his state’s 12 wolf packs haven’t caused any measurable decline in elk and deer populations.

In Idaho and Montana wildlife officials say hunting wolves has been an effective tool in halting the rise of the predator’s population.

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