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A controversial bill was just signed into law by Idaho Governor, Brad Little. The bill, SB1211, authorizes the decrease of the wolf population by up to 90% in Idaho.
The bill allows an increase in hunting opportunities and authorizes the state to hire private contractors to kill the wolves. Hunters will be allowed to use night vision equipment, trapping, baiting and snaring to kill wolves with a single tag until the quota has been reached. The bill would also permit wolves to be hunted from vehicles and snow machines.
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Sponsors of the bill, including ranchers and hunters, say they want the population of approximately 1,500 wolves decreased to about 150 to reduce attacks on livestock and help increase elk and deer numbers.
In addition to various environmental groups, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission as well as federal and tribal wildlife managers asked Gov. Little to veto the bill, stating concerns that it puts wildlife management efforts in the hands of politicians rather than wildlife managers, but proponents of the bill say that wildlife management “dropped the ball” on managing the wolf population in the last decade and the state had to step in.
Wolves in the Northern Rockies have been delisted since 2011, but the species was only recently removed from the U.S. Endangered Species Act.