Wolf Hunters Would Help Cover Livestock Loss Under Idaho Bill

By Jessica Robinson

A bill headed for the floor of the Idaho House would tap into the interest in hunting wolves to raise money for ranchers who lose livestock to those wolves. A legislative committee approved the measure Tuesday, despite legal concerns.

Idaho lawmakers who represent ranching country say it's now up to the state to cover losses caused by wolves. Federal compensation funds are another casualty of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.

The House bill would raise the cost of a wolf hunting tag by $4 and send $8 from each tag sold to a “Wolf Depredation Account.” It would both reimburse ranchers and fund state efforts to rein in the wolf population.

But the Idaho Department of Fish and Game opposes the bill, as deputy director Sharon Kiefer testified.

Sharon Kiefer: “I believe most hunters want to be part of the solution. But I don't believe their funding want to be the only solution.”

Kiefer said the move may also violate an agreement with the federal government to use fees from hunting tags and licenses to preserve and propagate wildlife.

But Rep. Judy Boyle, the bill's sponsor, said she was confident it would pass legal muster.

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