Story at a glance
- Wolves were reintroduced into Idaho in 1995 and were removed from Idaho’s list of endangered species in 2011.
- In February, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said the wolf population has held steady at approximately 1,500 over the past two years.
- “We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” lawmakers said.
Lawmakers in Idaho are moving forward with a bill that would allow the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90 percent of the current wolf population as their growing numbers threaten livestock, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The Idaho senate passed the measure Wednesday in a 26-7 vote and the bill now goes to the state’s House chamber.
Wolves were reintroduced into Idaho in 1995 and removed from the state's list of endangered species in 2011. In February, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said the wolf population has held steady at approximately 1,500 over the past two years, even though hundreds have been killed by hunters, trappers and other wolf-population measures conducted by authorities.
Federal criteria for wolf recovery requires only about 150 wolves in the state.
“These wolves, there’s too many in the state of Idaho now,” Republican state Sen. Mark Harris, a sponsor of the legislation, said during debate on the senate floor.
“We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” Harris said.
The AP reports another sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Van Burtenshaw, said there’s never been a discussion of “killing 90% of the wolves.”
“The purpose of this legislation is to control the population, not to wipe them out,” he said.
However, during a committee hearing on the bill, the lawmaker said the state is allowed to increase the killing of wolves up to the 150 threshold, according to AP. If the state’s wolf population were to fall under 150, the number of wolves that are allowed to be killed would need to be reduced.
The bill would also increase funding to the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control board from $110,000 to $300,000, remove limits on the number of wolf tags issued to an individual hunter and allow hunting with all-terrian vehicles, snowmobiles and other methods.
“The Idaho Senate’s sudden move to pass this bill in the eleventh hour incentivizes the cruel deaths of more than 1,000 wolves across the state,” Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
“This brutal war on wolves must be stopped, and we urge the House to deny this bill,” Zaccardi said.
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