Idaho Might Be Set To Kill Up To 90% Of Its Wolf Population With Legislation That Includes Night-Vision Equipment

(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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An Idaho bill allowing the state to potentially kill up to 90% of its wolf population, which includes spending on night-vision equipment as well as snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles for hunting, has been approved in both houses of the state legislature.

The Idaho House voted 58-11 to approve the agriculture industry-backed bill, which passed in the Idaho Senate last week, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Brad Little, who approved a spending measure in March to reduce excess wolf populations.

Idaho’s fish and game commission reported in a February press release that the state’s wolf population has remained consistent at around 1,500 in recent years. About 500 wolves were killed in the last two years by hunters, trappers and government authorities.

The state’s wolf management plan implemented in 2002 calls for at least 150 wolves and 15 packs, around one-tenth of the current wolf population. But the plan notes that reducing the number of wolves to 100 or less could force federal intervention under the Endangered Species Act. (RELATED: A Renaissance For America’s Greatest Outdoor Pastime)

Proponents said the legislation would reduce the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150 and alleviate attacks on livestock and wildlife, according to the AP. Ranchers said wolves have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars by attacking or killing their animals.

“We have areas of the state where the wolves are having a real detrimental impact on our wildlife,” said Idaho House Majority Leader Mike Moyle. “They are hurting the herds, elk and deer. This allows the Wolf Depredation Control Board and others to control them, also, which we have not done in the past.”

Opponents said the legislation could potentially cause the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take control of managing the state’s wildlife, adding that Idaho residents want the state’s fish and game commission to decide wildlife policy instead of lawmakers or the federal government, according to the AP.

Environmental groups also slammed the Idaho House’s passage of the bill and called on Little to veto the legislation.

“The bill will waste millions of dollars of public funds on killing wolves, and threatens to ultimately return the species to the endangered species list and federal management,” the Western Watersheds Project and about a dozen other environmental groups said Tuesday in a statement.