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Humane Society gives thoughts on Idaho bill to manage the wolf population.

The bill would allow hunters, trappers, and private contractors to kill up to 90 percent of the wolf population
Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 10:00 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The Idaho State Senate recently passed a bill that would allow hunters, trappers, and private contractors to kill up to 90 percent of the wolf population. The Humane Society of the United States is now giving their opinion on the bill, and how they think the state’s wolf problem should be handled.

SB1211 would open up trapping of wolves on private land year-round, along with removing any limit on the number of wolf tags issued to a hunter. the bill would also allow the state to hire private contractors to manage the wolf population.

Sen. Van T. Burtenshaw(R) of District 35, who was the floor sponsor of the bill when it was introduced to the Senate, said the purpose of the legislation,” to control the [wolf] population. Not to wipe them out. There has never been any discussion in a working group of complete annihilation of the wolf population.”

Sen. Mark Harris(R) of District 32, who supports the bills, believes there are too many wolves in the state of Idaho. According to the state, the wolf population has been holding steady for the last two years at 1,500. However, many in the agriculture industry would like to see that number closer to 150, which is what is allowed under Idaho’s 2002 Wolf Conservation and Management plan.

“They [wolves] are destroying ranchers. They are destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” Harris said.

Amanda Wright, who is a wildlife protection manager for the Humane Society of the United States, thinks the bill is an overreach and is more fear-based.

“Livestock depredation by wolves in Idaho is pretty rare. Producers actually lose 66 times more cattle to things like bad weather, disease, and respiratory problems and those types of things,” Wright said.

According to a 2020 report, Wildlife Services in Idaho conducted 205 depredation investigations related to wolf complaints, for 111 livestock producers in 16 counties from July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020. During this reporting period of the 205 investigations, 102 involved confirmed wolf depredations. During the same period in FY 2019, WS-Idaho conducted 264 wolf depredation investigations for Idaho livestock producers, of which 175 were determined to be confirmed wolf depredations.

Wright said wolves are effective in managing their own populations and there’s really no reason to hunt them. She believes there are more humane ways for Idaho to manage its wolf population.

“Non-lethal deterrents like livestock guardian dogs, range riding, fencing, all of those things are actually much more effective for reducing those rare occurrences,” Wright said.

She also points out that studies have shown that killing wolves can actually increase and exacerbate problems because it breaks up those stable social structures that wolves really on.

Some Idaho legislators shared Wright’s concerns at the April 21 Senate vote, and fear the bill could lead to a huge reduction in the wolf population

“Is there anything in the law that says we can’t kill enough wolves that we end up with 150,” said Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D), of District 16,

The bill was passed in the senate 26-7, and Wright others worry the bill will get similar support in the House.

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