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Wolf pack hunts near central Idaho town

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is warning residents of the central Idaho town of Hailey to stay away from a pack of 10 wolves that has moved in north of the community.

Wildlife biologist Regan Berkley said the agency is considering hazing the Phantom Pack, which recently traveled south from Galena Summit and has been hunting elk and making kills a few hundred yards from homes.

"We are advising folks never to approach a wolf, to definitely stay back from the wolves; and certainly one of the concerns is with dogs and other pets," Berkley told KMVT-TV of Twin Falls.

Billy Morgan, a wildlife photographer and hunter, said the wolves feed on kills even though there are people talking a few hundred yards away.

"These wolves have been coming every night and running elk off the ridge into the subdivision and making a kill amongst these homes," he said. "This pack does not have fear of people. We've been within a hundred yards, people talking, the wolves come in and they'll eat on these kills.

"This subdivision might not have a lot of little kids, not a lot of kids right now, but a lot of neighborhoods do in the south valley. We don't want wolves in our neighborhoods."

Lynn Stone, a wolf advocate, said the wolves are still afraid of people but that Fish and Game should come into the area and scare the wolves away.

"If you don't want wolves around your face clap your hands and yell at them," she said. "They're going to run. These wolves have gotten a little used to people and I think Fish and Game needs to come out here with cracker shells and scare them out of here."

Idaho has 846 wolves in 88 known packs and 39 breeding pairs, and biologists estimate the state wolf population has been growing by 20 percent each year.

Earlier this month Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was upholding a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and the western Great Lakes from the federal endangered list.

Salazar said wolves would remain a protected species in Wyoming because its law and management plans were not strong enough. But management of the predator will be turned over to state agencies in Montana and Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah, in addition to the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.