Letters From the West

Idaho House passes wolf control board bill by big margin

Wolf B2 leaves his kennel at Corn Creek in 1995, running into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Wolf B2 leaves his kennel at Corn Creek in 1995, running into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

A bill that would create an Idaho Wolf Control Board was approved by the Idaho House Friday morning.

The bill, which was drafted by hunter and livestock stock groups, passed 49-16 with five abstentions.

The bill has the support of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who has proposed spending $2 million in one time funds to help start up the board. Its main task will be to fill in for budget cuts to the federal USDA Wildlife Services agency, which responds when wolves kill livestock.

This bill makes cattle and sheep ranchers pay for half of the annual costs and sportsmen dollars the other half. But the sportsman dollars only go for reducing wolf numbers in areas where elk and other wildlife populations have been held down by wolves.

This has wolf advocates and even many hunters critical of the board and its goals, which they see as inconsistent with managing wolves as a big game animal. The law would have to be reauthorized after five years if it passes.

It now goes to the Senate where co-sponsor Republican Sen. Bert Brackett predicts it will have strong support.

Hunters and trappers have done well reducing wolf numbers – dropping the minimum from 850 to about 600, a 30 percent drop, since 2009.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Letters from the West