Feb. 16, 2021 Update

One of the best things about living in Idaho is easy access to the outdoors and family-friendly opportunities to hike, run, or ski with your dog. But, last year, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game dramatically expanded the year-round hunting, trapping, and snaring of wolves. 

As a result, there have been a series of tragic encounters with pets severely hurt or worse after becoming caught in traps and snares intended for wolves. In 2013, IDFG noted that more than 30 dogs were caught in such traps in Idaho. Since then, trapping has expanded significantly.

One of the few places in Idaho where there are still relatively safe opportunities without fearing your pet will be caught in a trap is the Wood River Valley. Blaine County Commissioners had the foresight to pass resolutions calling for co-existence with wolves and have partnered with the ranching community to prioritize non-lethal deterrents to protect both livestock and wolves. (For more details, check out the excellent work of the Wood River Wolf Project).

Previous Fish and Game Commissioners and IDFG staff recognized the value that this community places on sound wildlife management, so, in response to public concerns, they have not allowed wolf trapping to date.

Updated information:

IDFG is now proposing to allow wolf trapping and expand wolf hunting year-round in Units 48 and 49 in the Wood River Valley. The other 97 hunting units in the State already allow wolf trapping. 

The Blaine County Commissioners have already submitted a letter to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game opposing this proposal. We appreciate the County speaking up on behalf of recreationists and wildlife. 

We encourage those who live in the Wood River Valley to reach out to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission with comments and testimony in support of keeping current protections in place. We recommend including the following:

Oppose the expansion of wolf hunting seasons and trapping and snaring areas: In 2020, IDFG expanded wolf hunting areas and seasons despite little or no data supporting this dramatic increase in wolf hunting in this region. Instead of expanding hunting, IDFG should work with land managers on restoration efforts that improve wildlife habitat.

Expand the distance from unpaved trails where traps and snares are allowed: There have been a series of tragic encounters with pets becoming caught in traps and snares intended for wolves. Traps can be set within 10 feet of the centerline of unpaved trails. For anyone who walks a dog – even on a leash – that is clearly not a sufficient distance to protect the pet. Also, trappers may apply a scent near their traps to attract the species they are targeting, and dogs may be lured by this smell. 

For traps, IDFG already has a 300-foot setback from major recreation sites such as designated public campgrounds, trailheads, paved trails, or picnic areas. This setback should be expanded to include U.S. Forest Service and BLM roads and trails with high recreational use. 

Trappers should be required to place signs in areas where traps are present: This common-sense proposal has been suggested previously but has yet to be instituted. Note that it is illegal to tamper with a trap. 

To address livestock depredations, IDFG should invest more in non-lethal measures instead of paying bounties for wolves as is currently done. 

Comments are due Feb. 25. There are several ways you can comment:

Online: Click here. Once on the site, click “Magic Valley Region” and scroll down to Proposals for Gray Wolf. Click “View Proposal” for Game Management Unit (GMU) 45, 48, 49, 52, and 52A. 

Fill out the survey and provide comments. Please note if you have a hunting license, fishing license, or wildlife license plate, and tell a story about how you recreate in the Wood River Valley.

Virtual Meeting: There will be a virtual meeting for comments on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. Click here on that day/time.

Telephone: People can call (208) 324- 4359 on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For details, click here.

Email: Commission@idfg.idaho.gov

Regular mail: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 324 South 417 East, Jerome, ID 83338

In-person testimony:  At a special meeting of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission on March 17 in Boise. Click here for details. 

Make your comment personal to you and tell your story. For tips and talking points, check out our wolf trapping factsheet.

Additional Questions and Answers:

Why is trapping even allowed?

In 2012, the Idaho Constitution was amended to state that the rights to hunt, fish, and trap shall forever be preserved and are the preferred means of managing wildlife. The Fish and Game Commission has the authority to regulate these activities. 

What should I do if my dog becomes caught in a trap?

Leg-hold traps are usually not fatal if they can be released in a timely manner. But pets caught in leg-hold traps can become frightened, panic, and bite their owners who are trying to release them, so cover your dog’s head with a jacket to prevent it from biting you. Pets caught in snares can quickly suffocate and require immediate extrication. As a precaution, IDFG recommends taking the following items with you when you go out with your dog:

  1. Heavy-duty Felco cable cutters to cut snares.
  2. A 6-foot length of rope or leash on hand to use as a pulley to open body-gripping traps.

How-to videos and where to report an incident: IDFG has also posted videos for dog owners on recognizing and avoiding traps and releasing your pet from a trap.  Be sure to report any incident to your local IDFG office.