A new version of the $2 million wolf-control fund bill has been introduced this afternoon in the House Resources Committee, but there were still lots of “no” votes. Rep. Terry Gestrin, R-Donnelly, supported this one though he opposed the earlier version – which was introduced by only a one-vote margin in the same committee – mainly because this one includes a “sunset,” or five-year expiration. “A lot of things the Legislature needs to re-evaluate, and if you don’t have that to make it come back to the Legislature, there’s no oversight,” Gestrin said. “I think it’s important that the representatives of the people get that opportunity.”
Gov. Butch Otter proposed the new initiative in his State of the State message this year; a $2 million, one-time state appropriation would join annual donations from hunting license fees and the livestock industry to fund a new board targeted specifically to wolf control. “Elimination of wolves is not the goal of this bill,” Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, told the committee. “This bill only allows the board to contract with wildlife services or Animal Damage Control or Fish & Game or anyone else the board would see appropriate, for control of depredating wolves, or wolves that are causing problems.”
When Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, asked Gibbs how many of Idaho’s wolves are considered “depredating wolves,” Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, muttered something without using the microphone, and Gibbs said he couldn’t hear the comment. “He said he thought they all were depredating,” committee Chairman Lawerence Denney said. Gibbs said, “The Fish & Game Department will still set harvest goals for wolves.” Today’s introduction of the new bill clears the way for a full hearing in the committee.