A fast-tracked bill allowing for the killing of up to 90% of Idaho's wolves cleared the state Senate 26-7 Wednesday and could come up for a House vote on Friday, the AP reports. Supporters say the bill—which would remove limits on the number of wolves a hunter can kill, expand the methods for killing, and increase funding for the hiring of contractors to kill wolves—is needed to protect ranchers' livelihoods, per the New York Times. Republican Sen. Van Burtenshaw, who introduced the bill on Tuesday, claims wolves killed 1,759 animals from 2015 to 2020, per the Idaho Statesman, which notes that amounts to far less than 1% of the 2.5 million cows and calves in Idaho as of 2019. And without hunting limits, some fear the state's estimated 1,556 wolves will be drastically reduced.
A 2002 management plan only mandates that at least 150 wolves be maintained across 15 packs, and some supporting lawmakers "referenced the 150 figure as if were the goal," per the Times. While some opponents fear cruel treatment, others, including the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, fear the consequences of a wolf population dipping too low. The AP notes 1,000 wolves have already been killed in Idaho over the last two years. The bill would also permit year-round wolf trapping on private land, hunting from ATVs and snowmobiles, and the use of night-vision equipment. It isn't clear whether Republican Gov. Brad Little would sign the bill should it pass the House, though he did approve increased funding for wolf kills in 2020. (Read more wolves stories.)