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How has Idaho's wolf management bill played out so far?

Wolf Wolves
Posted at 4:40 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 09:29:23-04

IDAHO — On July 1, 2021, Senate Bill 1211, also known as the Wolf Management bill, went into effect in Idaho. This bill passed through Idaho’s house and senate quickly and landed on Gov. Brad Little's desk back in May where it was signed into law.

Senate Bill 1211 allows anyone with a wolf hunting tag to kill an unlimited number of wolves and gets rid of restrictions on how the wolves can be killed.

This bill was supported by the ranching industry, but others are still trying to put an end to it months after becoming law.

“This new law is wiping out entire wolf families and hurting our ecosystem in the process,” program manager for wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Amanda Wight, said.

The Humane Society of the United States opposes the legislation, saying it damages the wolf population and pushes the species to the brink of extinction.

“Those effects on the wolf population are what caused HSUS and our allies to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year to put wolves in the Northern Rockies or in the entire western U.S. back on the endangered species list,” managing attorney of animal protection law at the HSUS, Nicholas Arrivo, said.

Idaho Wolves

“There was interest by the legislative body last year of providing additional tools to the toolbox to see if we can increase wolf mortality or at least the ability to increase mortality enough that we could turn the population south for a few years and get it smaller,” Idaho Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said during a Natural Resources and Interim Committee meeting.

Senate Bill 1211 went into effect just three months ago, but here is some data so far. If you look at the dark blue line, that is how many wolves were killed in 2021 compared to the last five years.

Idaho wolfs

“July 2021, the month after the implementation of 1211, you can see that harvest was the second-lowest out of five years,” Schriever said. “In August, the harvest of wolves in 2021 was just a little bit higher than its previous high.”

At the start of the year, Idaho had nearly 1,500 wolves and ranchers claim wolves kill their livestock. In 2019, 156 cows and sheep were killed by wolves, and in 2020, only 84.

Out of the nearly 2.7 million cows and sheep in Idaho, some might say that's a relatively small percentage.

“Data from the USDA show that livestock in Idaho actually loses 15 times more cattle to causes like disease and respiratory problems and bad weather than they do to wolves, coyotes, and foxes combined,” Wight said.

“All we’re asking the government to do is to do what it said it would do back at the time of delisting if this sort of very set of circumstances ever came to be,” Arrivo said.