Bill to kill up to 90% of Idaho wolves signed by governor

Jackson

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Article

I hadn't heard about this until this morning, and I thought it would be something some of you on here may be interested in. I was in disbelief when I first read that the goal is to reduce the population by 90%.

This article is an opinion piece, but I think it highlights the issues of the bill really well.
 

Bob

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Why in disbelief? Wolves are decimating other wildlife/domestics because of no control.... what the set as limits doesn't necessarily mean the limit is met. Wolves are tough to hunt. My opinion.
 

ImNotDedYet

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Decimating is probably too strong of a term.

Elk numbers in Idaho are near where they were upon wolf introduction. A wolf pack hunts typically by separating one animal from a group - they're not often getting the strongest and best of the bunch in their kills but rather the weak and sick. Cattle such as sheep and cows die in far greater numbers due to disease than confirmed wolf kills. The actual percentage of deaths of cattle from confirmed kills is ridiculously small. Granted, there are likely a good deal more actual kills than confirmed, but the overall number is likely still extremely small as a percentage of the overall cattle population, and is still dwarfed by diseases.

One can look at the overall health of the grazing animals such as muleys and elk when their apex predators had been removed, vs now. At some point if left alone, nature will reach a balancing point - wolf numbers in Yellowstone have been roughly stagnant as have elk for a number of years now. When humans intervene, the end result is usually a less healthy overall environment - particularly when you factor in the overgrazing and the detrimental effects that has on the landscape.

150 - the number Idaho would like the population to be - is the number originally slated as the number the state could support, so the number is not arbitrary. And this bill doesn't open up to mere hunting by contractors paid for the state. Trapping is included, as is baiting. Night-vision equipment will be allowed as will shooting from helicopter. It's not at all what most hunters would consider "hunting." It's more along the lines of killing for killing's sake. If the number of wolves drops below 150, the management of the animals will be taken over by the federal government again.

The more concerning thing to many that oppose the bill is that it's been created by politicians as opposed to scientists, who are the ones that are supposed to be managing the animals while being far closer to the actual numbers of what the state can support naturally without drastically impacting the ranchers. Although I'm a Coloradoan whose done a fair share of research on wolves, I disagree with opening up for a vote to the public - the decision to re-introduce the animal. It should be left to the scientists who know the impacts and the benefits the best.
 

marmot_boi

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They can try but it will be really difficult to reduce numbers by 90%.
I used to think that Wyoming had the most unreasonable wolf management. Now they seem pretty reasonable next to what Idaho and Montana are proposing. Going forward it looks like the only sane wolf managers are Oregon, Washington, California, and Colorado.
It's interesting to me that the people who support these bills are the same ones that got all up in arms when wolf reintroduction was voted on in Colorado. "Ballot box biology," they claimed. "Defer to the biologists," they said. Yet not a peep from them when politicians ram these proposals through.
The argument that wolves decimate other wildlife is a funny one because they very clearly do not. If they did, why was game so abundant prior to European settlement?
Chris Servheen, who is the phrase "science-based management" condensed into human form, wrote this good opinion piece on the ID and MT legislature's predator management proposals.
 

Jackson

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Why in disbelief? Wolves are decimating other wildlife/domestics because of no control.... what the set as limits doesn't necessarily mean the limit is met. Wolves are tough to hunt. My opinion.
The article says that depredations by wolves account for less than 1% of loss of cattle and around 3% for loss of sheep. I don't think I'd call that decimation. I've read as well that wildlife populations aren't strained by wolves either (link 1 and link 2). So my disbelief is because lawmakers think that allowing up to 90% of the wolves to be culled is going to be worthwhile in light of the fact that wolves already aren't the killing machines they're perceived to be.

Sounds like they're pretty hellbent on getting there too, with letting people shoot wolves from vehicles and helicopters, allowing them to use night vision, and allowing as many kills as someone wants on a single tag. And like @ImNotDedYet mentioned, letting politicians rather than experts call the shots.

I hope you're right on them being tough to hunt and the limit not being met!

Decimating is probably too strong of a term.

Elk numbers in Idaho are near where they were upon wolf introduction. A wolf pack hunts typically by separating one animal from a group - they're not often getting the strongest and best of the bunch in their kills but rather the weak and sick. Cattle such as sheep and cows die in far greater numbers due to disease than confirmed wolf kills. The actual percentage of deaths of cattle from confirmed kills is ridiculously small. Granted, there are likely a good deal more actual kills than confirmed, but the overall number is likely still extremely small as a percentage of the overall cattle population, and is still dwarfed by diseases.

One can look at the overall health of the grazing animals such as muleys and elk when their apex predators had been removed, vs now. At some point if left alone, nature will reach a balancing point - wolf numbers in Yellowstone have been roughly stagnant as have elk for a number of years now. When humans intervene, the end result is usually a less healthy overall environment - particularly when you factor in the overgrazing and the detrimental effects that has on the landscape.

150 - the number Idaho would like the population to be - is the number originally slated as the number the state could support, so the number is not arbitrary. And this bill doesn't open up to mere hunting by contractors paid for the state. Trapping is included, as is baiting. Night-vision equipment will be allowed as will shooting from helicopter. It's not at all what most hunters would consider "hunting." It's more along the lines of killing for killing's sake. If the number of wolves drops below 150, the management of the animals will be taken over by the federal government again.

The more concerning thing to many that oppose the bill is that it's been created by politicians as opposed to scientists, who are the ones that are supposed to be managing the animals while being far closer to the actual numbers of what the state can support naturally without drastically impacting the ranchers. Although I'm a Coloradoan whose done a fair share of research on wolves, I disagree with opening up for a vote to the public - the decision to re-introduce the animal. It should be left to the scientists who know the impacts and the benefits the best.
Great points. And your last paragraph is a dead on. It seems foolish to let politicians be the ones to make these decisions.
 

marmot_boi

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We previously reduced numbers by 100%, and that was before night vision scopes and choppers.
True but if neighboring states continue to have wolves, they will disperse to Idaho very quickly. And that involved heavy amounts of poison.
Reducing numbers to 150 is a dangerous game for Idaho because if they were to drop below that threshold, the feds will take over, and the state definitely doesn't want that.
 

wsp_scott

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I saw mention of this a week or so ago and was not surprised given what I have read over the years. Politicians respond to the loudest voters and on this issue, I suspect the loudest voters are ranchers who are not fans of wolves. I like the idea of wolves, but I live in KY so my opinion doesn't matter to a western politician.
 

marmot_boi

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I'm curious as to whether the Forest Service has discretion over what methods of wolf harvest can occur on their land. Obviously the state sets regulations on methods of take, bag limits, etc. but I'm assuming the Forest Service is not going to let helicopter gunning occur in wilderness areas.
 

SteveR

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I can't speak for Idaho, but many Alberta ranchers along the Rocky Mountain foothills graze their cattle in summer on public lands that they pay virtually nothing to use. And in some cases, attempt to restrict public access to hiking, hunting or trout streams even though the grazing leases do not give them the right to do so. If a cow or calf goes missing, it is always blamed on a predator as there is a government funded compensation program with a minimum $400 payout per animal. The reality here is that they don't lose many to predation, considering how many tens of thousands of cattle are put out into the wild each summer- I call it a cost of doing business for free on public land.
 

fossana

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This bill is repulsive and completely unjustified by the data. From a recent Outside article on the topic:

In 2018 there were 113 confirmed wolf kills of cows and sheep. In 2019 that number was 156, and in 2020 it was 84. That gives us a three-year average of 113 wolf kills per year in the state. There are currently 2.73 million head of cows and sheep in Idaho. That means confirmed wolf-caused losses amount to 0.00428 percent of the state’s livestock.
According to a study published in 2003 and widely cited by the agriculture industry, variables like terrain can sometimes make it hard to find dead livestock, so the true number of wolf-related losses may be up to eight times greater than the official tally. Assuming that worst-case scenario applies universally, wolf kills may account for as much as 0.02 percent of the state’s livestock.

US Fish and Wildlife is already
compensating ranchers 50% of the livestock value for confirmed wolf predation deaths. Furthermore, how many of these kills are occurring on federal lands where we as taxpayers grossly subsidize ranching?

I am hoping this is something DoI can overrule with the endangered species act reclassification or by other means. State jurisdiction should not overrule policy on federal lands.

 

OwenM

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I guess reading the actual bill, which would have taken a whole minute, didn't occur to any of you.
 

marmot_boi

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Here's the bill. The bill sounds a lot more innocuous than it actually is, as all bills do. Actually reading the bill is not very useful, unless you have also read Idaho's predator management policies and wolf recovery goals.
 

OwenM

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Uh, that is not what I meant by only taking a minute to read!
Try this:

It doesn't sound like anything. They're going to maintain no less than 50 wolf packs, and 500 wolves.
It goes back to 2005, and the original goal was a wolf population of ~100.
By some weird coincidence(since I hadn't yet seen any of the sensationalistic articles, and didn't even know about the bill), I somehow got linked to a 10 or 11yr old article about the reintroduction of the wolves-while looking for info on bears and bear canister requirements in Sawtooth National Forest(?). I have a "thing" for wolves-collectibles, paintings, donated to the Wolf Conservation Center, all that stuff, so read about it. Then a day later I see this thread. Strange...
 

OwenM

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Yeah. They were different bills that went before the House and Senate, respectively. There's lots of bills, though. Now I've read that the one signed is indeed supposed to be 15 packs and 150 wolves, not 50/500 like the one I was looking at. That's more in line with the original goals when introducing the wolves, but brings the question of why they weren't being managed before. Either way, it's not a "we just want to slaughter wolves for the heck of it" thing. I've devoted about ten whole minutes to this, so I'm sure there's plenty more I haven't seen, but it's not new. When I ran through the one you linked, the year and dollar amount for the depradation fund had been struck and amended from 2015.
That's about all of my time this is going to get. Seems like people would have long since been fired up about states that already have open season on wolves, and allow them to be killed indiscriminately as varmints, if they cared so much about them.
 
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