Idaho’s Wolf Depredation Control Board had its first budget hearing this morning, and reported that it didn’t spend the full $400,000 it was allocated for its first year, but it did contract with USDA Wildlife Services to kill 31 wolves, all of which were attacking livestock; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. “We have every reason to believe 2014 was an anomaly,” Carl Rey, board member, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. It saw less wolf depredation than the state had seen since 2005, he said.
The board has spent just over $140,000 so far, Rey reported; it’s currently contracted to spend another $235,000 through the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. It is projecting it’ll have a $130,000 year-end balance; in addition to the $400,000 state appropriation, it received money from livestock producers and matching funds from Fish & Game.
Rep. Van Burtenshaw, R-Terreton, said, “That’s $4,600 per wolf. As the wolf population grows, how are we going to sustain this type of expense?” Rey said expenses included “many, many other activities taking place that are expensive,” including helicopter time for monitoring. “So yes it is expensive, but there are many, many aspects to the control activities taking place.”
Brad Compton, Idaho Fish & Game assistant Wildlife Bureau chief, said the state’s overall management of wolves is aimed at reducing, not increasing, both their population and conflicts with wildlife and livestock. “All the information we have since we started implementing management, primarily hunting and trapping starting in 2009, is populations are declining slowly,” he said. “We’re starting to see some positive responses in reduced depredations. … But the intent in the future hopefully is one of needing less rather than needing more.”