Wolf watch

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Yesterday, the opening day of wolf hunting in the Idaho Panhandle, a Moscow hunter shot down a male in North Idaho's Marble Canyon, the first of 30 that can be legally shot in the region between now and the end of the year. That makes 23 wolves killed in the state so far. The limit is 220.

In Montana, nine wolves have been killed so far, seven of which were harvested in District 316, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness bordering Yellowstone National Park. The other two were taken in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.

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Both states have websites (Montana here, Idaho here) with current wolf harvest information.

Speaking of wolves, Idaho again wants permission to land helicopters in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to dart wolves and outfit them with radio collars. The U.S. Forest Service denied a similar request in 2006, and environmental groups argued such landings disrupt pristine wilderness.

Incidentally, the unprecedented measure of allowing wilderness landings is one way in which Montana Sen. Jon Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act stands out, and why the bill could rewrite the rules on what's permissible in wilderness areas going forward.

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