BOISE -- Big game season is winding down, and hunters are letting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) know how the season went.
"They're our eyes and ears out there and they help us understand what's happening out on the ground and that allows us to adjust seasons and regulations along with our own counts of the population," said Craig White, who is a wildlife biologist with IDFG.
White said it is still a little early for numbers from elk season, but they are encouraged by early reports. They will know better how hunters did when their harvest report comes out.
"We actually had some great numbers of animals coming through," White said. "Some of our best numbers in recent years and so that was exciting to see."
Seeing those good numbers was especially encouraging after an intense fire season that claimed some Idaho wildlife.
"There were some deer and some elk lost, but less than 100 each was actually documented," said White. "That's 100 more than we wanted to see, but population wise, that's a drop in the bucket, less than 1 percent of the population out there."
Those numbers come from reports by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and IDFG.
More elk are being lost to the wolf population than from fires.
"In particular, some of the back country areas, wilderness areas of Idaho, we've seen some large impacts, significant impacts to elk from wolves," said White.
IDFG uses hunters to help control the wolf population, a method that some groups like Defenders of Wildlife have spoken out against.
"We're able to use hunters and able to harvest wolves and reduce the population in those areas, and we feel like the elk populations are holding steady, although we have to keep monitoring the situation and keep using hunters to help us manage the wolf population," White said.
Even with elk and deer seasons winding down, there are still a few tags available. Contact IDFG for more information.