BOISE — A proposal to use $2 million in state money to create a wolf control fund narrowly avoided defeat during a committee hearing Jan. 27.
Members of the House Resources and Conservation Committee voted 9-8 to print the bill and give it a public hearing. A tie vote would have meant a defeat for one of Gov. Butch Otter’s signature proposals this year.
Under Otter’s plan, the state’s cattle and sheep industries would contribute a total of $110,000 annually to the fund, which would be used solely to fund wolf control efforts. Sportsmen have agreed to match whatever the livestock industry generates, up to $110,000.
Several lawmakers who voted against the legislation were opposed to creating a new five-member board to manage the funds.
Federal funding for wolf control efforts in Idaho has shrunk by about $620,000 in recent years and finding more money to control problem wolves is one of the livestock industry’s main goals this legislative session.
The bill’s narrow survival was a concern to members of the state’s livestock industry who attended the meeting.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Idaho Cattle Association Executive Vice President Wyatt Prescott said after the vote. “We need this legislation to help control these wolves.”
An advisory committee that included sportsmen and livestock industry representatives worked out the plan to raise $620,000 a year for wolf control efforts but a new board to manage the funds was not part of that discussion, said Rep. Judy Boyle, a Republican rancher from Midvale.
“There was nothing about a separate board using any of these precious dollars,” said Boyle, who called the idea of a board to manage the funds a breach of faith from what the committee intended.