State wildlife officials have hired a hunter to eliminate two wolf packs in a federal wilderness area in central Idaho because officials say they are eating too many elk calves.

Fish and Game Bureau Chief Jeff Gould tells the Idaho Statesman that hunters are having a difficult time getting into the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness, so the agency hired hunter-trapper Gus Thoreson of Salmon to kill the wolves in the Golden and Monumental packs.

Blocke / Flickr Creative Commons

About a third of Idaho hunters making written comments on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission's draft elk management plan say they want more wolves killed to increase the elk population.

The Times-News reports that the commission on Thursday at its quarterly meeting received the first report on the 442 comments.

About 150 of hunters making comments say they want increased measures to control wolf populations.

Only 19 people making comments wanted no wolf control measures.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southern Idaho ground squirrels are found only in the Gem State and are a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. In May, we told you about a project to give some of these squirrels a new home near Horseshoe Bend to study ways to boost their numbers. Now, scientists know a bit more about this squirrel.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

After a two year wait, Idaho has released its proposed plan to manage the greater sage grouse. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have been working on the plan with help from Idaho’s Fish and Game Department and the governor’s office.

If the plan is approved the sage grouse will stay off the endangered species list. Jessica Gardetto with the BLM says if the bird is listed land use becomes complicated.

Yellowstone National Park, Bison, Lamar Valley
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Saturday has been designated "National Bison Day" under a U.S. Senate resolution sponsored by western lawmakers.

The measure is intended to promote the cultural and economic contributions of bison in the United States. It was introduced by Wyoming Republican Sen. Michael Enzi and passed by unanimous consent.

Bison advocates in Congress also this week introduced a broader proposal to elevate the Plains bison to a status similar to that of the iconic bald eagle. A similar measure stalled last Congress.

A coalition of environmental groups is suing the federal government over cuts in protected habitat in Idaho and northeastern Washington for the last known herd of mountain caribou.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Last November, the agency opted to slash protected habitat for the species in Idaho and Washington from 375,000 acres to about 30,000 acres.

USFWS / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s quail hunting season started over the weekend. There are four quail species in Idaho, but only one is native to the state.

You can’t hunt Idaho’s native mountain quail because in the last few decades they’ve nearly disappeared. Now, Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game wants your help to find the ones that are left. But habitat biologist Tom Hemker says don’t bother looking in Boise.

The Peregrine Fund

They’re not the prettiest bird species, but vultures play a vital role in nature and some of them are in trouble. That’s the message behind International Vulture Awareness Day Saturday.

The Peregrine Fund and the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise will celebrate vultures with displays and exhibits.

grizzly bear, yellowstone
Xinem / Flickr Creative Commons

A grizzly bear bit two Bureau of Land Management contract workers in remote country in eastern Idaho but fled after one of the men doused it with pepper spray.

The encounter Thursday happened west of the Island Park Reservoir, about 35 miles from the Wyoming-Montana border and Yellowstone National Park.

At least one of the men required stitches in wounds on his thigh and buttocks. The other man suffered minor bite wounds on his hand.

They were treated at a regional hospital and released.

Washington Fish and Game

An Idaho man cycling to Alaska suffered a scare after being chased by a gray wolf.

Thirty-five-year-old William "Mac" Hollan of Sandpoint says he also needed the help of friends to thwart a wolf that chased him last week — half-way through his 2,750-mile trip to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Hollan told the Spokesman-Review the wolf charged out of the forest about 60 miles west of Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory.

Gray Wolf
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Aggressive gray wolf hunting took a toll in much of the Northern Rockies last year as the predator's population saw its most significant decline since being reintroduced in the region.

Numbers released by state wildlife agencies show Wyoming's wolf population down 16 percent from 2011, Montana's down 4 percent and Idaho's down 8 percent.

That was partially offset by population gains in eastern portions of Washington and Oregon.

Idaho Fish and Game

The head of Idaho’s Fish and Game Department went before state lawmakers this week to make the agency’s annual budget request.  Virgil Moore told lawmakers the sales of Idaho hunting and fishing licenses haven't kept pace with the state's population growth.  We spoke with Moore about that trend and how it's affecting his agency's budget. Moore says he's seen the biggest decline in out of state hunting licenses.  Click 'Listen' to hear our interview from Morning Edition Friday.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Montana wildlife commissioners will weigh in for the first time Monday on a broad plan to protect against animal disease around Yellowstone by reducing the size of some elk herds, hazing them away from livestock and building elk-proof fences.

Those are some of the proposals to curb the spread of the disease brucellosis offered by a state-sponsored citizens working group.

If wildlife commissioners adopt the group's recommendations it would open the plan to public comment.