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Readers' views for March 23, 2012


Website tracks wolf sightings


It seems as though each week there is a letter or notice of more and more wolf sightings in the state of Idaho and surrounding states, especially during hunting season.


After three failed attempts on the Idaho Fish and Game website to report a wolf-killed elk cow sighted while riding on horseback near our home in Orofino, I decided to take matters into my own hands and founded a nonprofit organization, the Northwest Wildlife Foundation Inc., and started a real-time, resident-reported, wolf-sighting mapping program with the intent of better public safety.


At the time of this letter being drafted, the map has now been active for nearly 6 months and has managed to be viewed over 13,000 times and has gathered over 500 Facebook fans in that short period. Since then, because of the mapping program's popularity and the over 350 sightings I have received and mapped, the map has been expanded to include not only the remainder of Idaho, but now includes Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.


The map is completely resident driven and the sightings are color-coded to include wolf sightings, wolf scat sightings, wolf tracks, suspected wolf-killed animals, as well as resident reported wolves taken with hunting tags. I have received numerous reports of horses, dogs, elk, deer and cattle killed by wolves as well as numerous hunters, hikers and campers coming face to face with these predators. Several residents have even reported wolves sighted within feet of their homes and small children, and even wolf scat found at a local school bus stop within a few minutes of our town.


Alarmingly, I have been told many times of firsthand accounts that these 100-plus pound creatures have been sighted in packs of up to 25 animals per pack and many have been reported to have a complete lack of fear of people, even when fired upon. The intent of this map is to educate residents of these states to be aware of active wolf locations so that they may plan their hikes, camping trips, horseback rides, prospecting and hunting trips accordingly. Residents can view the map at www.NorthwestWolfSightings.org and can report sightings through the link on the map. They can also join our Facebook page there.


The mapping program has also now been featured on the Montana Outdoor Radio Show as well as on the TrademarkAmerica.org Wolf Coordination website, and on the Oregon rancher-sponsored LifeWithWolves.org website.


Damon Popovics


Orofino, Idaho



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