Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed a bill to create a state board that will work to control the growth of wolf populations in the state.
Otter signed the bill on Wednesday, despite opposition from some conservation groups.
The bill, which passed on the final day of the recent legislative session, creates a $400,000 fund and establishes a five-member board whose job is to authorize the killing of wolves that come into conflict with wildlife or livestock.
Idaho's wolf population is on the decline, heading toward 10 breeding pairs, or 150 wolves.
That's the goal set in the 2002 wolf management plan that will remain the state's official policy unless it is changed by the Legislature.
The Idaho Statesman reports that last week's legislation to establish an Idaho Wolf Control Board, along with efforts to expand and increase wolf hunting and trapping, has galvanized some national conservation groups.
Idaho wildlife officials have killed 23 wolves in northern Idaho in an effort to boost the number of elk in the region.
The Idaho Fish and Game announced Friday afternoon that the animals were killed by USDA Wildlife Service agents using a helicopter in the Lolo elk zone near the Montana border. It's the sixth time the agency has taken action to kill wolves in the Lolo zone in the past four years, bringing the total number of wolves killed there to 48.
Gray wolves are a controversial and polarizing animal in much of the American West. Wolves have slowly come back from extinction, forcing people to learn how to coexist with the cunning predator. One farmer is teaching his cattle to huddle together as bison do when threatened — there is safety in numbers.
Republicans promoting Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposed $2 million fund to kill wolves say they hope the cash helps eliminate more than 500 of the predators in Idaho, reducing numbers to 150 animals in 15 packs.
Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace and Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson Monday told the House Resources and Conservation Committee the cash set aside with Otter's proposal will bolster Idaho's predator arsenal.
Idaho now has about 680 wolves, according to state Department of Fish and Game estimates.
During the summer of 2007, a city kid from Seattle lived out an adventure most wannabe cowboys only dream of.
Bryce Andrews spent a year working on the Sun Ranch — an expansive area of rangeland in the breathtaking wilderness of southwest Montana — mending fences, riding horses, roping cattle and transforming himself into a true ranch hand. It fulfilled his heart’s desire to live among the wild. And, as Andrews writes, it “might have been a simple, pretty story, if not for the wolves.”
Hunters and other interested parties have one more chance to comment on Idaho's proposed new elk management plan.
The state has spent the last several years working on a plan to replace the current version, which went into effect in 1999. Fish and Game's deer and elk program coordinator, Toby Boudreau, says the 15-year-old plan is now obsolete.
Some conservation groups are suing federal and state officials over Idaho's plan to track and kill wolves from two packs in central Idaho.
The lawsuit, filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch on Monday, asks the judge to stop the extermination immediately to give the case time to work through the courts.