Get paid to shoot a wolf? Well, not quite, but it’s the next best thing. If you are planning to hunt or trap wolves in Idaho you can take advantage of this program and get a reimbursement of up to $1,000 per wolf if you are successful! That’s right, keep your receipts, successfully hunt or trap a wolf and get a check to reimburse your costs! The Foundation for Wildlife Management or F4WM was launched back in 2012. While this is nothing new to many of us, it is worth taking note of, especially since wolves are more prevalent in many of the places we hunt, and for some of us wolves are at or near the top of our big game hitlist. Idaho has plenty of wolves; with well over 1000 canis lupis statewide, there are many reasons for a group like this to exist, and the benefits from their success speak volumes. Participants have been reimbursed for over 700 wolf harvests through this program, and total payouts are only $430k! When you break this down by unit cost, it amounts to just over $600 per wolf which is incredibly low, especially when you compare it with the cost of 7-9k per wolf that state agencies such as IDFG pay for the same result. Not only do hunters and trappers come out with an extra incentive, but we as sportsmen and conservationists are winning as well. Anytime we can manage these predators and keep costs down, it’s a win-win across the board. What is the catch? Well, you’ll have to join up and become a F4WM member before you harvest a wolf (*when funding is available from IDFG this is not required, see website for details). The cost is $35 per/year and MUST be done prior to harvesting your wolf. After that you hunt or trap and when you are successful you submit your harvest slip along with receipts and the area/region of which you shot the wolf and you will be reimbursed for your hunt! If you check out the system online it is pretty straight forward. There is a sliding scale for payment which is calculated by region and the need for wolf removal therein. For example, a wolf taken in “any region” statewide is reimbursable up to $450 however, if you hunt or trap a wolf in the Panhandle unit 1 or Lolo units you can receive up to $1,000 or if you knock one down in the Panhandle in any unit not meeting elk population objectives it is reimbursable up to $750.
Wolves have a place in the chain, that is not being questioned here, that is a topic for another day. However, wolves left unmanaged will multiply as much as 40% annually, and currently with hunting and trapping efforts we still see wolf populations growing by roughly 25-30% annually. This means we are not keeping up with the reproduction rate! If you look at elk population statistics, especially in areas such as the Lolo region in Idaho or the Gardiner/Yellowstone elk herd in Montana you will find a story of devastation and unsustainable loss. Don’t take my word for it, dig in and read the stats yourself. The wolf is an amazing apex predator, cunning, beautiful and more effective at killing than we could have ever imagined. While the beauty of these creatures is one to behold, we also must strive for balance. As mentioned previously, when we as hunters keep populations in check we save money, elk, deer and livestock and create a sustainable hunting economy for ourselves and future generations. F4WM makes this process easier and rewarding; it is definitely something to check out and add to your options if you plan to hunt or trap in Idaho.