Agriculture industry-backed bill approved by Idaho Senate Committee will cut wolf population from 1500 to150
A full 90 percent of wolves to be killed following new legislation
About 90 percent of Idaho's wolves are scheduled to be killed by private contractors following a legislation approved by an Idaho Senate committee. The wolves, who have been said to be attacking cattle sheep and wildlife, are seen to be a nuisance and will be culled from a population of about 1,500 to 150. The wolves actions have cost agriculture producers hundreds of thousands of dollars and have resulted in the reduction of available deer and elk for hunters. The legislation includes a decision to increase the amount of money the Idaho Department of Fish and Game sends to the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control board from $110,000 to $300,000. Created in 2014, the board is an agency within the governor's office that manages state money it receives to kill wolves.
"For the cattle industry, our priority really revolves around opening up the Wolf Depredation Control Board to contract with private individuals and enabling the free-market system to take place and create more efficiencies in actually controlling those wolf populations," Wyatt Prescott of the Idaho Cattle Association told lawmakers.
About 500 wolves have been killed in Idaho in each of the past two years. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported this past February that the wolf population has stayed consistent in numbers, which were gathered through the use of remote cameras and other methods.
Opponents of legislation respond to decision
Not everyone in the Gem State is in agreement with this decision. Opponents of the legislation say that it contradicts a 2002 wolf management plan that involves the federal government that could lead to the U.S. Fisn and Wildlife Service taking back control of managing the state's wolves. If Idaho's wolf population falls to 100, it's possible that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could resume management of its wolf population.
The legislation includes other changes, including removing any limit on the number of wolf tags issued to a hunter. This means that there would be no restriction on how many wolves a person is allowed to kill. Wolves have generally been proven difficult to find and kill for most hunters and trappers.
In addition, this legislation also combines a hunting tag with a trapping and snaring tag, allowing for only one tag to be required for those combined methods. Wolf trapping would be allowed year-round on private land.
The bill will also see changes that will allow for the hunting of wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles, methods allowed for animals classified as predators, such as coyotes. As well, state agencies outside of Idaho would be allowed to kill wolves in Idaho.
VIDEO: Unforeseen impacts caused by wolves in Idaho
Numbers: Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain States
Idaho: ~1000 (2020)
Status: Population state managed. Idaho’s wolf management plan includes an annual harvest season.
Montana: 819 (2018)
Status: Population state managed. Montana's wolf management plan includes an annual harvest season.
Wyoming: 311 (Apr. 2020)
Status: Population state managed.
STATISTICS: How Many Wolves Are In The United States
Numbers: Gray Wolves in the Pacific Northwest
California: A single pack with 5 wolves; a pair of wolves; and a single wolf for a total of 8 known wolves.
Status: federally protected.
Oregon: 158 (2020)
Status: Wolves throughout Oregon were delisted from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) on November 9, 2015. Wolves remain federally protected in the western portion of the state (west of Hwys 395-78-95).
Washington: 145 (2020) individual wolves, up from 126 from the previous year. Status: State/tribe managed in the eastern third of the state. Federally protected in the western portion.