Timber wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.
A new public records request to Idaho Department of Fish and Game reveals that Idaho wolf trappers are capturing nearly as many non-target species as they are capturing wolves. 47% of the species captured between the 2012/2013 to 2018/2019 trapping seasons, including rare fishers, wolverine, eagle, and lynx were non-target species. Of the non-target species captured, 57% of those were killed. During the period covered by the public records response, wolf trappers killed 813 wolves, caught 620 non-target species of which 269 were released alive and 351 were killed. It is likely that a percentage of those animals that were released alive eventually died from injuries sustained from the traps that either killed them outright or made it difficult for them to find food.
The request was for “data showing capture or mortality of non-target species such as deer, elk, mountain lions, fishers, wolverines, eagles, pets, bobcat, etc. caught by wolf trappers in Idaho between the dates January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2019.”
A previous public records request in 2013 revealed similar problems with wolf and fur trappers in Idaho. That request revealed that 58% of the species captured by trappers who also had a wolf trapping permit, were non-target species.
Some of the species caught by trappers indicates that not all of the species were captured while trying to trap wolves. For example, the data reveals that two fish were killed which is probably more indicative of beaver or muskrat trapping as the cause. The public records response did not explain much about the records received.
The non-target species included bobcat (29), deer (206), dog (15), duck (21), eagle (1), elk (9), fish (2), fisher (56), goose (3), house cat (14), lion (89), lynx (1), magpie (32), marten (2), moose (10), otter (5), porcupine (8), rabbit (42), raccoon (6), raven (5), red fox (8), snowshoe hare (9), squirrel (39), Stellars jay (2), wolf (4), and wolverine (2).
The fisher (Pekania pennanti) is a small, carnivorous mammal native to North America.
The rare species caught included an eagle, 56 fishers, a lynx, and two wolverines. There is no open season for fisher, kit fox, lynx, or wolverine in Idaho. Lynx are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, fisher and wolverine have active petitions to list them under the Endangered Species Act and eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Here is the breakdown of the data: