Idaho wildlife officials announced on February 28 that 23 wolves in the Lolo elk zone had been shot and killed by USDA Wildlife Service Agents. The announcement of the month’s tally came on the heels of a $2 million proposal to fund additional management actions that passed the state House in February.
According to the Times-News, the bill would create a five-member board made up of wildlife officials, agriculture directors, representatives from the livestock industry, and sportsmen to oversee the employment of the state’s wolf control methods.
There are an estimated 680 wolves in Idaho, which make up 118 packs. The predators have been a serious problem for the state’s ranchers and farmers for years, and negatively impact elk herds. Wolves were blamed for a mass migration of elk into southern Idaho last month, which has led to property damage in the area. Idaho Game and Fish Officials say that wolf depredation is one of the reasons why elk and deer numbers are declining in the state.
Wildlife advocacy groups say that the February kill and other management actions are part of a “war on wolves,” and push for officials to use nonlethal methods instead.
“Lethal control is ineffective and it’s expensive,” said Suzanne Stone with the Defenders of Wildlife. “Simply killing wolves does not address the issue.”
The Associated Press reported that the $2 million bill passed the state House last month in a 49-16 vote, despite some lawmakers criticizing the measure as overly expensive. The bill, which is supported by Idaho Governor Butch Otter, is now headed to the state Senate.
Idaho wildlife officials have also proposed allowing hunters to use bait to hunt wolves in the northern part of the state.