Idaho House passes wolf control board bill by big margin

rbarker@idahostatesman.comFebruary 21, 2014 

Former Boise biology teacher and professional photographer Larry Thorngren and Salmon rancher Carl Lufkin testify on a bill to establish a wolf control board before Idaho House Resources Committee Feb. 17, 2014.

ROCKY BARKER

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 reduced the number of wolves in Idaho by about 30 percent since 2009, from a minimum of 850 to about 600.

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