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Senate Resources Committee endorses night, aerial wolf kills, live bait use for ranchers

The Senate Resources Committee has voted 7-2, along party lines, to pass SB 1305 to the full Senate with a recommendation that it “do pass.” The bill would let livestock owners whose animals are molested by wolves shoot the wolves from motorized vehicles, powered parachutes, helicopters or fixed-wing planes, by night or day, using rifles, pistols, shotguns, or crossbows, night scopes, electronic calls, and traps with live bait. Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said the bill goes too far. “I really am afraid that you worked long and hard to gain an agreement with the federal government to be able to have wolves be hunted and managed by the state, and I'm afraid that this bill will put us out there to jeopardize that,” she said. “I think in that case it's counter-productive. I'm just afraid that that just sends a message that we aren't honoring something that's already in place as far as wolf management.” She noted, “There is no definition or parameters about what live bait means in this bill. … It takes it to a level that it's just not supportable to me.”

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, asked the bill's sponsor, sheep rancher Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, why he needed the live bait provision, which he said has prompted the most opposition. “You know, the darn things keep coming at us in the night, that's the only explanation,” Siddoway responded. “They come in the middle of the night. … You can only see probably 150, 200 head out of 2,500 head in a band of sheep. … You just literally can't find 'em. And most of these kills come in the nighttime. So if you can figure out the direction in which they're coming and put a pen down there with a few sheep in it, so that they come … into that area and they circle that pen at 2 o'clock in the morning, you've got a much better chance of getting the perpetrators of that depredation. … That's why we need the live bait.”

Rep. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, moved to hold the bill until July 1, 2012.  “The language that says 'notwithstanding any other provisions of Idaho law' is about as broad an exemption from Idaho law as I've ever seen in legislation,” he said. “I would hope that the committee would decide that we want to take a step back.” Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, made a substitution motion to approve the bill, Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls seconded it, and it passed with just Werk and Stennett objecting.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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