Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90% of Idaho’s Wolves; Opposition Ensues
Senate Bill 1211 which calls for the killing of up to 90% of Idaho's wolf population was pushed through the senate on Thursday.
Republican Sen. Mark Harris testified on behalf of Idaho's agricultural industry claiming, “These wolves, there’s too many in the state of Idaho now," of which are destroying ranchers and wildlife and that the bill is needed.
According to The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho's wolf population has been steady at 1,500 in the past two years. This bill would cut that down to 150 pushing wolves in Idaho to nearly the brink of being federally listed under the Endangered Species Act if the population were to reach 100.
Some are criticizing the legislature arguing that this bill is politically driven and has no scientific backing. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game testified taking the opposition. With the new law hiring private contractors to kill wolves, this strips IDFG's authority to properly and scientifically manage the wolf population. Furthermore, $300,000 will go from the Idaho Department Fish and Game to the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control board, giving the Idaho legislature the power to control the species.
Zoё’ Hanley, Ph.D., Northwest Representative for Defenders of Wildlife, said in her testimony that her organization "sees this bill as an assault on both wolf recovery across the west and proactive nonlethal conflict management. Important decisions about wildlife management and policy should be based on science, not politics."
The Humane Society of the United States also issued a statement in opposition calling the bill an "embarrassment to the state of Idaho." The statement went on to say, "there is no scientific or ethical justification for this deeply misguided and dangerous legislation. In a race to slaughter one of America's most treasured animals, this bill allows fear and hate to win. Idaho's wolves deserve better; the environment deserves better. This bill must be vetoed by Governor Little if it comes to his desk."
The bill also includes removing any limit on the number of wolf tags issued to a hunter. In other words, this eliminates all restrictions on how many wolves one person is allowed to kill. Hunters will also be permitted to kill wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles and other methods allowed for animals classified as predators, such as coyotes.