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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho lawmakers receive threatening letters over wolf law

A gray wolf is photographed last summer by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife game camera near Chewelah.  (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Associated Press

Associated Press

At least two Idaho state lawmakers received threatening letters concerning their votes on a law intended to drastically reduce wolf numbers.

The anonymous letters to Republican Sen. Dan Johnson and Republican Rep. Caroline Troy say that “just as the wolf went from predator to prey, so shall you.”

It’s not clear how many more lawmakers received the letters. The Lewiston Tribune reported Wednesday that some of the lawmakers contacted the Idaho State Police.

Backers of the wolf law that took effect July 1 said the state can cut the number of wolves to 150 before federal authorities would take over management. That would be a 90% reduction of the state’s 1,500 wolves.

The letters describe lawmakers as “nothing more than a sellout to the Cattle Association and that pitiful minority of cattle producers that seemingly dictate how our wildlife lives and dies.”

Johnson said the envelope had a Sacramento, California, postmark, and the return address was the Statehouse in Boise.

“It’s OK for people to disagree with my votes or my bills, but some comments cross the line,” he said. “I think this letter comes close to the line, if not stepping over it.”

The law passed the Senate 26-7 with no support from Democrats. It passed the House 58-11 with one Democrat in support and no Republicans opposed.

A primary change in wolf hunting in Idaho allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves and provides more money for state officials to hire the contractors. The law also expands killing methods to include trapping and snaring wolves on a single hunting tag, using night-vision equipment, chasing wolves on snowmobiles and ATVs and shooting them from helicopters. It also authorizes year-round wolf trapping on private property.

Troy said the letter appeared to have been smeared with something, and that it had several drawings, possibly of a tree and several geometric shapes.

“The whole thing was odd,” she said. “I understand that people feel strongly about wolves – I do, too – but I think Idaho is better than this.”

Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke said at least a handful of lawmakers got the letters.

“It doesn’t happen often, where there have been threats to multiple individuals,” he said. “We all get a lot of snarky emails and texts, but we don’t turn them into ISP or the Attorney General’s Office.”

Environmental groups in July notified Idaho Gov. Brad Little and other state officials of their intent to file a lawsuit over the expanded wolf-killing law they believe will result in the illegal killing of federally protected grizzly bear and lynx.