Introduction of wolves has changed elk populations. We also have black bears and mountain lions that also prey on elk. Since 2009,Idaho’s been managing wolves with hunting. And then in 2011, we started trapping. And part of that is to help manage the balance between elk and wolves.
We are concentrating in those areas where we've seen depressed elk populations and I believe in some areas we are starting to see a difference in elk populations and in wolf populations.
It's not necessarily all wolves that are causing those declines. Remember, a lot of that area was impacted heavily by fires in the early 20th century. So in 1910, 1918, in 1937, there were huge fires that burned over most of northern Idaho. That translated about 30 years later into some of the best elk habitat in the West. Our elk populations flourished. We had huge numbers of elk, and it was because the habitat was just in perfect situation. Now, over the last 25 or 30 years, we've actually seen that elk habitat go back to conifer forests, which there isn't a lot of food in there for elk. There are meadows in between and there is some vegetation, but it's nothing like that brush field. Early successional stages of habitat that we saw in the middle 20th century. We're actually working with the Forest Service to try to improve that habitat because it is so integral to the success of elk populations. Same factors in all Western mountain states.