A southern Idaho lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow for year-round wolf hunting. The legislation introduced last week by Senator Bert Brackett would create 11 big game hunting units, primarily located south of the Snake River, as “wolf-free zones,” allowing hunters and trappers to take wolves any time of the year. The bill would also allow year round hunting in chronic depredation zones, locations where Idaho Fish and Game or USDA has identified four depredations in a five year window.
Currently, Idaho allows wolf hunts during the late summer, winter and spring months.
Under Brackett’s proposal, hunting licenses and wolf tags would still be required year-round to hunt or trap wolves, and hunters would still have to report wolf kills to Fish and Game within seven days. Brackett, a rancher in his Twin Falls County district, said the bill aims to “get a handle” on the long-running problem of wolf depredations on livestock.
While incremental efforts have been made through hunting, trapping and Fish and Game’s Wolf Management Plan, Brackett said wolf numbers have continued to increase along with depredation events.
“I don’t want to diminish the efforts [by Fish and Game] already being made,” Brackett said. “We have a good management plan—we just need to follow it. But ranchers’ livelihoods are being threatened.”
According to the USDA, 75 wolf-caused depredations occurred in Idaho between July 1st and November 15th, 2019, down 48% year over year. However, total wolf depredations over the fiscal year ending June 30th hit a record high of 175, up 25% from the previous year. The bill includes a “trigger” of 20 wolf packs or 200 wolves total. If Idaho wolf populations dropped below that level, Fish and Game would be authorized to review the policy and “take appropriate action” to restore numbers.
If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]