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Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho

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The tribe is encouraging Idaho residents to comment on the state's wolf management plan drafted by the Legislature's Wolf Oversight Committee before the Sept. 1 deadline "It is crucial that any wolf plan developed for Idaho effectively assures the survival of the wolf for the long term," said Sam Penney, tribal executive committee chairman. Wolves from Canada were reintroduced into Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would start the process of delisting them under the Endangered Species Act when there are a minimum of 30 breeding pairs in Idaho, Yellowstone and Montana for three straight years. "Once sustainable populations are established, we would support delisting of wolves in Idaho," Penney said. In 1995, the Legislature prohibited any state involvement in the reintroduction such as monitoring, shifting that responsibility to the Nez Perce in a cooperative agreement with Fish and Wildlife. The new draft plan does not include a tribal role. "The tribe intends to continue a management role in wolf recovery," Penney said. "We are currently engaging the state in discussions leading to the possibility of a joint state-tribal management plan." Wolves have been confirmed living in the heavily used Marble Creek area off the St. Joe River between Calder and Avery, the first pack to become established there since wolf reintroduction started in 1995. "We've been surprised wolves haven't found that country sooner," said Curt Mack, tribal wolf director. The radio-collared alpha male is known as B-48. The female, probably uncollared, most likely is the offspring of a reintroduced pack. Two packs live nearby, one at Snow Peak near the headwaters of the St. Joe and the other in the Kelly Creek drainage at the Montana border. Young wolves spend a lot of time playing near their den, Mack said. Biologists found bones, old hide, bits of plastic and even shoes that have served as toys until the wolf family moved on. Thirty-five Canadian wolves were transported to central Idaho in 1995 and 1996. Wolf B-48 has drawn a few death threats from residents. But some locals like the idea of wolves in their back yard. "I've lived here all my life. You always think about wolves in Montana," Forest Service recreation technician Liz Montgomery said. "I think it's kind of neat there's different kinds of wildlife up there."

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