Idaho lawmakers on verge of sanctioning a carnage of 90% of the state’s wolves

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on April 23, 2021 with 17 Comments

UPDATE (5/7/21): Despite overwhelming opposition from Idaho residents, professional wildlife biologists and managers and state fish and game commissioners, Gov. Brad Little signed S. 1211 into law on May 5. We urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to uphold its obligations to review and relist gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Reckless policies like Idaho’s will lead to unfettered killing of wolves in the months ahead unless the agency steps in to protect these vulnerable animals.

A bill that would allow trophy hunters, trappers and private contractors hired at taxpayer expense to kill up to 90% of the state’s wolves is flying through the Idaho legislature, and we need to stop it in its tracks.

The bill, introduced Tuesday, has already passed the state Senate and the House Resources and Conservation Committee. It could receive a vote on the floor of the House as early as Monday.

This is a terrible and wrongheaded measure that shows neither compassion nor any understanding of science. S. 1211 would allow trophy hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves by shooting mothers and pups in their dens, poisoning the animals, and shooting them from helicopters or airplanes, among other extremely cruel methods. The bill would also give the state an additional $190,000 to hire state and federal agencies and private contractors to kill wolves, on top of $400,000 the state has already allocated for this purpose.

In addition, it would allow wolf trapping year-round on private lands—a step that puts not just wolves but even pets at risk of getting trapped and injured or even dying.

Lawmakers who are pushing the bill hold out a weak argument that they want to bring down the number of wolves in the state—now estimated at 900 to just over 1,550—to 150 wolves, or approximately 15 packs. What they are not disclosing is that such a no-holds-barred carnage could end up wiping wolves out of the state forever.

Unfortunately, we have come to expect such disregard for these American native carnivores from Idaho. Wolves lost their federal protections in the state in 2011, a decade before the recent federal delisting of wolves in other contiguous states, which returned wolf management to the states. The state has since allowed these animals to be massacred in alarming numbers and without mercy. In 2020 alone, at least 407 wolves were killed by trophy hunters and trappers in Idaho. The state does not set a limit on how many wolves can be killed each year and wildlife officials have been whittling away the protections further with each passing year. Last year the Idaho Fish and Game Commission increased the number of wolves a single individual can kill to 30 and just last month it allowed year-round wolf hunting in much of the state. S. 1211 would further solidify this carnage into law.

The bill claims to be targeted at protecting cattle ranchers, but data show such conflicts are rare. Moreover, killing wolves disrupts the social structure within packs and can actually lead to more conflict between young animals and cattle, instead of preventing it. It is also not true that killing wolves can increase deer and elk populations for hunters to target; keeping wolves alive can keep deer and elk herds healthy and can help mitigate the spread of disease.

Americans value wildlife and want animals like wolves protected, but increasingly, we have seen our lawmakers move in the opposite direction at the behest of trophy hunting interests. In November of 2020, the Trump administration delisted wolves in all 48 lower states. In states like Idaho, Montana and Wisconsin some lawmakers and wildlife officials are pushing regressive policies based off the same myths and hate that once pushed wolves to the brink of extinction.

Wolves are iconic, and most Idahoans want them protected. Thousands of people from all over the world flock to Idaho to see these majestic carnivores in places like Yellowstone Park, bringing their tourist dollars with them. Were this dangerous bill to become law, Idaho would not only see its ecosystems thrown off balance because of the loss of its apex predators, it would stand to lose all of that tourism revenue.

We and our allies are fighting with all of our might to stop this bill, even as we move full steam ahead with other efforts to end the persecution of wolves, including challenging the federal delisting of wolves in court. This is a long-running war but we are in it for the duration. Every year we work to ward off attacks on wolves by some members of Congress during the annual appropriations process. The past two administrations—under Obama and Trump—have failed to protect wolves. The Biden administration has the chance to undo this wrong and follow the scientific evidence that these imperiled animals need federal protections to ensure they survive.

We will be looking for your help with these efforts. For now, if you live in Idaho please contact the office of Gov. Brad Little and urge him to veto S. 1211 if it comes to his desk. Wolves today occupy just 15 percent of their historic range in this country, and we need more laws to protect them, not kill them, especially in states like Idaho where they have suffered for far too long.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Ali says:

    This must be stopped!

  2. Jeff Widell says:

    God Awful Situation.
    I don’t like feeling helpless about something that I am passionate about.

    The younger aged outdoor Sports enthusiasts with significant disposable income ( including skiers ) need to know about this. It time for multi level Boycott on Idaho.

  3. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Tun Sie alles um das morden der wunderbaren Tiere zu verhindern.

  4. e says:

    People are insane to allow this to happen. STOP THE KILL

  5. Deborah Lane says:

    Why can’t humans let animals live in peace with their families. The only over population are humans, freeways,buildings,factories polluting the earth. We bull doze our way across the planet,killing raping, destroying everything in our path. We need to be better stewart’s of the creatures and the earth.

  6. Tom Soden says:

    The carnage upon wildlife must stop ,preservation is a must

  7. Laurie says:


  8. Nancy Stewart says:

    Thank goodness Kitty Block is fighting regressive laws allowing the killing of 90% of wolves in the lower 48 states. Such cruel methods of mass killings of wolves need to be stopped. Public education needs to be given in understanding how wolves are a beneficial in keeping herds healthy.

  9. Tom Soden says:

    Enough is enough , let our preservation of wildlife prevail and not the slaughter that cattlemen want.

  10. Kathy Macchia says:

    Please do not allow S 1211 to become law in your State!!
    We as Americans are tired of the SLAUGHTERING of Wolves and will be boycotting those States that continue to disregard our letters, emails and photos
    & calls asking the States ( Montana and WYOMING are included in this as well)to STOP killing our wolves!!
    There are other ways to manage wolves!

  11. Bettina Carroll says:

    I have been to Sun Valley for 40 years to ski. If this does not change…I will never help your STATE in any way. No tourism, sale of my condos, etc. etc. GOT IT!!!
    B Carroll

  12. Robin glass says:

    If you have not already you must go see wolves at acceptable viewing location like Yellowstone, Idaho, Canada, Minnesota, etc. If you can not go then you must at least watch some wolf YouTube. Read about how they restore balance to nature. Read about how wolves have helped and saved human lives. They like to show off their pups to you at close vulnerable range. And how they have minimal impact on agricutulture. And how wolves joined with humans thousands of years ago.. Then if you are human and have a soul you will be in love with wolves. And you will do whatever you can to protect them.

  13. janice Becker says:

    Although travel & tourism and our companies have sent groups for many years to Idaho Falls for its splendor which includes the Wolf & the Natural beauty of the
    area – our clients are very sensitive to the environment & the amazing mammals in our great country. And they very strongly DO NOT AGREE WITH ANY SLAUGHTER OR KILLING OR HUNTING OF WOLVES.
    and if you go forward with a Wolf Hunt much Tourism to Idaho will be adversely effected & STOP.

  14. Matt says:

    What is wrong with the world in which we live?complete greed and disregard for the wonders of nature.these like all animals have family structure and values,feelings,emotions, and most of all want a chance to live .Maybe all of the legislators,senetors,judges,lawyers and anyone else getting a larger wallet at the expense of beautiful creatures should take a lesson from’ll learn something.stop being bought and do what is right for wolves,for now and the future!

  15. helen bonasera says:

    shame on our leaders for letting this bill that brad little signed, my question is how can one person be in charge of such an important decision, not only wolves are being caught in foot and snare traps but think about all the wild animals in our forests that are not safe in the only place they have on our lands. All these animals want to do is raise there young and live the short lives that they get, how selfish are we to take that from them. I am sad to say that the only thing i fear in our forests is human kind…..

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