BOISE (AP) – Idaho officials will provide up to $200,000 for trappers and hunters who kill wolves in Idaho through next summer.
Late last month, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reached an agreement to reimburse expenses incurred for a proved kill.
This agreement comes after a Idaho law was changed to reduce the number of deer and elk populations. This year, Montana expanded the range of when, where, and how wolves could be killed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the U.S. announced last month a one-year review to determine if wolves from the West should be relisted in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.
Since 2011 when wolves were removed from the endangered species list, Idaho has been managing them. While state wildlife managers had been steadily increasing wolf captures over the years, it was not enough to satisfy lawmakers who, earlier this year, passed the law supported both by trappers and the powerful ranching industry.
Ed Schriever, Idaho Fish and Game director, stated to lawmakers at the state Natural Resources Interim Committee that the agency has been tracking the number of wolf deaths during an informational meeting last week.
“It is my view that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife will be looking at changes in Idaho’s harvest over the next 12 month and will look at the components. If there is a significant change and can be attributed directly to regulatory changes, that could be of considerable interest for them,” Schriever informed lawmakers.
“I don’t think that this thing is going jump off of the tracks, but I will guarantee you we are monitoring this closely,” he stated.
Schriever stated to lawmakers that there has been no significant spike in wolf deaths through September so far compared with previous years. The new law went into effect July 1.
A potential lawsuit against Idaho over the killing of federally protected Giant Grizzly Bears and Lynx is also possible due to the new law. Another environmental group asked the U.S. Forest Service for protection of wolves in wilderness areas of the two states against professional contract hunters and private reimbursements.
Idaho Republican Governor. The measure was signed by Brad Little in January this year. It would have led to the killing of 90% of Idaho’s 1,500 wolves, before federal authorities take over. Schriever stated that a new estimate of the state’s wolf population will be made available in January.
Fish and Game charges license fees and hunters pay $200,000 for the reimbursement program. This money will be used to cover the $200,000 cost of the reimbursement program. The state’s Wolf Depredation Control Board will distribute the money to the Foundation for Wildlife Management in accordance with its agreement. This hunting group describes its mission as protecting deer herds and elk herds.
According to the website of the group, the program reimburses $2,500 for the killing of a wolf in an area Fish and Game believes wolves are persistently preying upon livestock. This is defined by the agency as an area where at least one confirmed livestock attack has occurred in each of the past five years.
Fish and Game has agreed to pay $2,000 per wolf hunted in units where predators are preventing elk from meeting their management goals. Hunters will be paid $1,000 for wolves in the state’s northern tip, and $500 for wolves elsewhere. If the money runs out before June 2022, reimbursements could be reduced significantly.
The highest-dollar reimbursements for high-dollar expenses are found in central and west Idaho. They also include designated wilderness areas.
Justin Webb, executive director of the group, did not return a call from The Associated Press.
Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League’s president, stated that the bounty system for wolves was one of the factors that would help to relist wolves. He is also the representative of one of the groups that asked federal officials to reconsider relisting. “This was a clear consequence. The Fish and Wildlife Service will examine some of these changes.”
The new law not only establishes the reimbursement program but also expands the killing methods. It allows hunters to hunt from motor vehicles and night-vision equipment, trapping and snaring of wolves with one hunting tag. It also permits year-round trapping of wolves on private property.
Montana’s state wildlife officials approved a statewide harvest limit of 450 wolves. This is approximately 40% of Montana’s total wolf population. There are now legal methods for killing wolves. These include night hunting, baiting, and snaring. The trapping seasons have been extended.