Wolf control board expected to get full $2 million
BOISE — A newly created wolf depredation control board only got a portion of the $2 million in state money that its supporters were aiming at this year, but it is still expected to get the money over a five-year span.
When Gov. “Butch” Otter proposed the plan in January, the idea was to spread $2 million in one-time money over five years to help fund the board, whose sole purpose is to fund lethal efforts to control depredating wolves.
Because of a technicality, the Idaho Legislature’s joint finance-appropriations committee only transferred $400,000 from the general fund to the board this year, said Rep. Marc Gibbs, a Republican farmer from Grace who carried the bill in the House.
Wolf control board supporters will now have to ask for $400,000 every year instead of getting the $2 million up front. But, Gibbs said, “It’s everybody’s intention that it be an annual appropriation.”
It would have been nice to have $2 million the first year, said Sen. Bert Brackett, a Republican rancher from Rogerson who sponsored the bill on the Senate side.
“But we didn’t get it so we have to go back and ask for appropriations each year,” he added. “If the money is managed correctly and it is getting results, I don’t think that will be a problem.”
The $400,000 will be augmented by $110,000 a year from the state’s cattle and sheep producers and another $110,000 from Idaho sportsmen.
That’s an extra $620,000 a year for five years that will be available to help control depredating wolves. Federal funding for the control of problem wolves in Idaho has declined by about the same amount.
During public testimony on the bill that created the board, sheep and cattle ranchers told legislators they desperately needed help to control problem wolves, while many opponents said the board was the start of a war on wolves that would result in the decimation of Idaho’s wolf population.
Brackett dismissed that claim and pointed out that Idaho is federally mandated to maintain a minimum of 150 wolves. If Idaho’s wolf population were to near that critical number, “It would be grounds for a lawsuit to have them re-listed again,” he said.
A wholesale slaughter of wolves isn’t going to happen, said Idaho Wool Growers Association Executive Director Stan Boyd.
“It’s going to allow the state to manage wolves in a way that the wolf lovers can continue to have their wolves, the elk lovers can continue to have their elk and the livestock lovers can continue to have their livestock,” he said.
To meet their part of the agreement, Idaho’s cattle industry agreed to increase the state brand renewal fee from $100 to $125 every five years, and sheep producers agreed to increase their wool assessment from 8 cents to 10 cents a pound.
“It took a commitment from the industry itself to come forward and do our part … to get this done,” Boyd said.