Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill in May expanding the allowable methods that can be used to control the wolf population in the state.
The law allows the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board to hire private contractors to hunt wolves, and expands methods licensed hunters may use to take wolves, to include the use of night-vision equipment, as well as hunting from snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.
Legislative sponsors of the bill estimated the new law could lower the wolf population by as much as 90 percent from about 1,500 to 150, curtailing wolf attacks on cattle, sheep and wildlife. Despite Idaho hunters taking 1,000 wolves over the past two years, at an estimated 1,500 wolves, the wolf population far exceeds the state’s recovery goal in its federally approved wolf management plan of 150 wolves.
Livestock Predation Growing
Predation on livestock has been a growing problem since the wolves were reintroduced into the state, says Caleb Pirc, former government affairs manager for The Idaho Wool Growers Association, and owner of Good Shepherd Farm where he raises sheep.
“I think part of the problem is wolves are very hard to hunt, they’re very hard to trap, because they are in hard to get to areas” said Pirc. “In the case of the sheep, we’re dealing with an animal that doesn’t have any natural defenses and is pretty small.
“We had a producer in eastern Idaho who lost 150 one night because the wolves just ran them off a cliff,” Pirc said. “The purpose of paying private contractors and expanding the ways of hunting wolves is to maintain balance in the ecosystem and protect livestock, because it is really hard to get a wolf. We have people who come in from out of state buying wolf tags and they won’t see a single wolf on guided hunts.”
Kenneth Artz (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Dallas, Texas.