BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho Senate committee has approved legislation that would allow the state to hire private contractors to kill about 90% of the wolves roaming the state.
The agriculture industry-backed bill approved by the Senate State Affairs Committee Tuesday includes additional changes intended to cut the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150. Backers say there are too many wolves and they’re attacking cattle, sheep and wildlife.
Opponents say the legislation threatens a 2002 wolf management plan involving the federal government that could ultimately lead to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taking back control of managing the state’s wolves. About 500 wolves have been killed in Idaho in each of the past two years.
On Thursday, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to not support the pending legislation, which would affect wolf hunting and trapping.
"While supportive of the intent and goal to reduce wolf depredations on livestock and reduce overall wolf populations, the commission had concerns the legislation encroached on the commission’s responsibility to set hunting and trapping seasons conflicted with existing seasons and rules regarding methods of take," said Roger Phillips, an Idaho Fish and Game spokesperson.
Commissioners shared frustrations that the Idaho wolf populations have not decreased quickly enough and wolf depredations continue in certain areas of the state.
Hunters, trappers and management actions typically take about 500-600 wolves annually.
Defenders of Wildlife testified in opposition of the bill Thursday.
Read the full testament from Defenders of Wildlife spokeswoman Zoe Hanley below:
The bill now moves to the floor of the State Senate. Should the bill pass the Senate, it would still need to be passed by the State House before reaching the governor's desk.
This story was originally published by the Associated Press and Nicole Camarda on Scripps station KIVI in Boise, Idaho.