New version of wolf-control bill gains support

(Twin Falls) Times-NewsFebruary 6, 2014 

A reworked bill to spend $2 million killing up to 500 wolves garnered substantially more state lawmaker support Wednesday than a controversial earlier version.

The newly edited bill contains minor changes, but still creates a separate fund to lower Idaho’s wolf population, said state Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, to the House Resources and Conservation Committee.

Like the original bill, this version calls for a five-member oversight board but a new addition dictates that board member reimbursement expenses would be capped at $1,500 per meeting. There’s also a sunset clause that would retire the bill in 2019.

“I truly think this is a better piece of legislation,” Gibbs said.

The bill was opposed by six lawmakers but the preliminary vetting of this law was mellow compared to the thorough questioning the first version received last week, said state Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, the bill’s co-sponsor. The first version had eight opposed.

The goal of the bill is to lower Idaho’s wolf population, currently as high as 680 animals, without wiping the species out or having it classified once more as an endangered species by federal regulators, Gibbs said.

If the bill passes, the $2 million would be a one-time appropriation with the livestock industry and hunting license fees contributing $110,000 each year.

The committee approved the bill with state Reps. Fred Wood, R-Burley; Steve Miller, R-Fairfield; Lenore Barrett, R-Challis; Donna Pence, D-Gooding; Mat Erpelding, D-Boise; and Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, voting against.

While questioning, Erpelding asked how many of Idaho’s wolves were considered “depredating wolves.”

Gibbs said he didn’t have that information readily available while Miller muttered a comment without using his microphone.

“I thought they were all depredating,” Miller said when asked to repeat his remark.

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