On Wednesday, the Idaho Senate approved legislation allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of the wolves in the state. The bill was approved on a 26-7 vote includes additional changes intended to cut the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported in February that the wolf population has been holding at about 1,500 the past two years. The numbers were derived by using remote cameras and other methods. About 500 wolves have been killed in the state in each of the last two years by hunters, trappers and wolf-control measures carried out by state and federal authorities.
Also according to the plan, if Idaho’s wolf population fell to 100, there’s a possibility the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could resume management of its wolf population. The 2002 document says wolf management could revert to what was in place when wolves were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
A primary change in the new law is the hiring of private contractors to kill wolves. The legislation includes increasing 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. The board, created in 2014, is an agency within the governor’s office that manages state money it receives to kill wolves.
Other changes in the legislation include removing any limit on the number of wolf tags issued to a hunter, meaning there would be no restriction on how many wolves one person is allowed to kill. Wolves, though, have proved difficult to find and kill for the vast majority of hunters and trappers.
The legislation also combines a hunting tag with a trapping and snaring tag, meaning only one tag is needed for those combined methods. Wolf trapping would be allowed year-round on private land.
In addition, the legislation makes changes to allow hunting wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles and other methods allowed for animals classified as predators, such as coyotes. Also, state agencies outside of Idaho would be allowed to kill wolves in Idaho.
The measure now goes to the House.
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