COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho. - Members of the Sandpoint-based North Idaho Wolf Alliance turned out at the Coeur d'Alene Fish and Game office Friday morning to protest the state's first regulated wolf hunt. Alongside the protesters was a smaller group who came out to show their support of the upcoming hunts.
Approximately 40 protestors gathered at the scene, while 15 wolf hunt supporters gathered.
The rally, which began at 11 a.m., consisted mainly of protestors and supporters carrying signs.
Permits to hunt wolves went on sale in Idaho on Monday. The season is scheduled to start September 1 in some regions of the state, but environmentalists have filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to stop the public hunts in Idaho and Montana.
Wolves in Montana and Idaho are no longer on the endangered species list.
The wolf hunts in the Panhandle district would run until 2010 or until 30 wolves in that region are killed. Each district in the state determines the number of wolves to be killed based on its wolf population.
Three-hundred wolves in Wyoming remain under federal protection because of a state law there considered hostile to wolves.
Schweitzer: Wolf hunts shouldn't be stopped
In Montana, Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he doesn't want a federal judge to side with environmental and animal rights groups who want to halt upcoming wolf hunts.
Schweitzer said Tuesday the state will take the issue "back to another judge" if U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy stops the upcoming wolf season in the Northern Rockies, which would mark the first public hunts for the predators in the lower 48 states in decades.
The hunts are set to begin Sept. 1 in parts of Idaho and two weeks later in Montana, but Molloy on Monday granted a request by environmental and animal rights groups for a hearing on whether the courts should prevent the hunts.
Wolves kill 120 sheep near Dillon
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say wolves killed 120 sheep in a pasture south of Dillon, more than were killed by wolves in the entire state a year earlier.
The dead sheep were found on the Rebish/Konen Livestock Ranch on August 16.
Carolyn Sime, statewide wolf coordinator for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says it's one of the most significant losses she's seen.
Sime says wolves killed 111 sheep in Montana in 2008.
Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife, a group that pays ranchers for livestock lost to wolves, says this is the first time she's heard of such a mass killing.
Kathy Konen says the sheep were killed, but their carcasses were almost all intact.
Federal trappers shot two wolves in the area and were searching for a third, but declined Jon Konen's request to kill two adults and five pups in a nearby pack.