LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) -- The Idaho Department of Fish and Game can land helicopters in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area this winter to put radio collars on wolves.

U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Harv Forsgren gave the state permission on Tuesday to land choppers up to 20 times, to collar about a dozen wolves, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

Landing helicopters in a federally protected wilderness has long been a point of contention between federal and state land managers. The Forest Service resisted a broader request from the state in 2006.

Idaho officials say trapping wolves from the ground isn't effective, so they want to do it while they're flying on annual winter deer and elk counts.

Craig Gehrke, of The Wilderness Society in Boise, said motorized incursions should only be allowed if they are to improve the wilderness ecosystem. Simply collaring wolves, he said, doesn't meet that goal.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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