Idaho proposes charging just $9.75 to hunt a wolf
BOISE, Idaho ” Idaho’s wolves will be even cheaper to kill than originally planned, according to state wildlife managers preparing to hold legal public hunts for the predators once Endangered Species Act protections are lifted.
The cost for a wolf tag would likely be just $9.75, the same price as a tag to hunt bears and cougars. Originally, the state Department of Fish and Game planned to charge $26.50 for Idaho residents to hunt wolves, and $256 for out-of-state hunters. Under the new plan, those from outside Idaho would now pay $150, the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., reported.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission had originally hoped to ask a higher price for wolves to help defer costs of managing them. Fees to hunt cougar and black bears would have been raised, too. The panel that oversees the Department of Fish and Game abandoned the higher prices after hunters grew concerned about paying more to bag a large carnivore.
Wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rocky Mountains, including Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, a decade ago after being hunted to near-extinction. More than 1,200 now live in the region, including about 650 in Idaho.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month began the process of delisting the animals from federal protections in Idaho and Montana, and some say hunting could start within the year.
Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, who is sponsoring the bill that would set the prices on wolf tags, said the animals will be treated like other big-game carnivores, and the state has “done a very good job of managing those species over the years.”
Officials collect statistics about where bears and cougars are killed and set seasons to maintain animal populations.
A plan drafted by Idaho’s wildlife agency and approved by the Legislature and the federal government requires maintaining at least 15 wolf packs.
“I want to take the opportunity to assure the American people that Idaho is going to be very responsible in the management of its wolves,” Schroeder said during a Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee hearing Monday. “We’re not going to eliminate them; we’re not going to try to eliminate them.”
The proposed fees would help offset about $720,000 in federal wolf management funds the state will lose once the species is delisted. State officials estimate sales of wolf tags could mirror those of other predatory animals. Bear tag sales total about $301,000 a year, and mountain lion tags bring in about $67,400.
In addition, 10 wolf tags would be available for special auctions or lotteries. Auction sales could net as much as $100,000, according to Schroeder’s bill.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesmanreview.com
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