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Legislation Capable Of Reducing Idaho's Wolf Population By 90% Heads To Governor's Desk

Three wolves stand in snow, facing the camera.
John Fleisher

A bill that expands wolf hunting in Idaho is headed to the governor’s desk. Conservation groups say the legislation could reduce Idaho's total wolf population by 90%.

Senate Bill 1211 passed both chambers Tuesday just seven days after being introduced. It allows year-round wolf trapping on private land and unlimited wolf tags for trappers and hunters. It also nearly triples the money coming out of the Department of Fish and Game budget for the wolf control fund. The state uses those monies to pay for depredation efforts.

Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns, subbing on the house floor for Rep. Muffy Davis (D-Ketchum), said he confirmed with Fish and Game the bill allows night time hunting of wolves, something not currently allowed for other big game.

“I fear that this would give rise to significant increases to unlawful taking of game," Burns said during debate. "I fear that that would make that case virtually impossible to prove for our hard-working fish and game officers.”

Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) said wolves have hurt elk and deer populations.

“They’re just out of control," she said. "We’ve got way too many wolves in this state, and they’re not our wolves, they’re Canadian wolves.”

Moon was referencing the state's import of some wolves from Canada in the mid-1990s to jumpstart population recovery efforts.

Conservation groups decried the legislation, and threatened legal action. They say Idaho's approximately 1,500 wolves kill less than 1% of livestock in Idaho, and that wild elk populations are above the state’s management objectives in many areas of the state.

“Governor Little must veto this cruel and disastrous bill,” said the Center for Biological Diversity's Andrea Zaccardi. “Idaho’s state wildlife agency should be allowed to continue to manage wolves, not anti-wolf legislators dead set on exterminating the state’s wolves."

Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.