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Policy & Politics

Idaho’s State Senators Have Straight Up Lost Their Minds

Idaho state senators on Wednesday completely lost their minds — or at least their humanity. The senators decided to approve legislation to allow the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of the wolves roaming the state. That’s a cruel death sentence for more than 1,000 wolves.

Republican Sen. Mark Harris, who was one of the bill’s sponsors during the debate on the senate floor, went on an anti-wolf rant. “These wolves, there’s too many in the state of Idaho now,” he said. “We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill.”

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported in February that the state’s wolf population has been around 1,500 for the past two years. Those numbers were calculated by using remote cameras and other methods. So far, there have been 500 wolves killed in the state by hunters, trappers, and wolf-control measures that are carried out by state and federal authorities.

Another one of the bill’s sponsors, Republican Sen. Van Burtenshaw, tried to downplay the number of wolves to be killed during the debate. “The purpose of this legislation is to control the population, not to wipe them out,” he said. “There’s never been any discussion in the working group of complete annihilation of the wolf population, or killing 90% of the wolves.”

This is at odds with his previously cited numbers at a committee hearing. Those numbers came from Idaho’s 2002 wolf conservation and management plan, which called for 150 wolves and 15 packs in Idaho. He said that the state is allowed to increase the killing of wolves to reach that level. That plan also pointed out that if the state’s wolf population fell to 100, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could resume management of its wolf population. The 2002 document noted that wolf management could revert to what was in place back when wolves were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The Only Reason They Are Stopping At 90%

Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne pointed out that nothing in the proposed law prevented the killing of wolves down to 150. “We do know that if we want to maintain our agreement with the federal government, we need to stop at 90%,” he said. “That’s what we know.” So, basically, if they could legally kill them all, they would.

One of the core changes in the new law is the hiring of private contractors to kill wolves. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will get sent a range of $110,000 to $300,000 to the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control board. The board was created in 2014 and is an agency within the governor’s office that manages the state money received to kill wolves.

Other changes in the legislation remove any limit on the number of wolf tags issued to a hunter. This means that there will be no restriction on how many wolves one person is allowed to kill. The new legislation will also combine a hunting tag with trapping and snaring tag. This means that only one tag is needed for those combined methods. Other new changes will allow hunting wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles and other methods allowed for animals classified as predators. Oh, and state agencies outside of Idaho get free rein to kill wolves in Idaho. It’s a wolf-killing party. The Purge.

Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, pointed out just how cruel this is. “The Idaho Senate’s sudden move to pass this bill in the eleventh hour incentivizes the cruel deaths of more than 1,000 wolves across the state,” said  Zaccardi. “The consequences of this bill will be horrendous. This brutal war on wolves must be stopped, and we urge the House to deny this bill.”

The new legislation is not yet law — it goes to the House next.

Killing Wolves Is Bad For The Environment

This should be seen as obvious, but let me explain to those who may not understand why we need wolves. Without wolves and other large predators, our ecosystems can go nuts. Yellowstone National Park is a great example. During the early years of the park, visitors were allowed to hunt and kill any wild game or predator they encountered. Between 1914 and 1926, around 136 wolves were killed in the park, leading to their extermination by the mid-1900s.

That extermination wasn’t just restricted to Yellowstone Park, but the entire lower 48 states lost the grey wolves. In 1991, Congress directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create an environmental impact statement regarding wolf reintroduction.

New research showed that 25 years after bringing the wolves back to Yellowstone, the wolves helped stabilized the ecosystem. Elk numbers in the park’s largest herd leveled off between 6,000 and 8,000 and were suddenly not starving to death anymore. And a study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology showed that the wolves could help elk herds weather the perils of a more volatile climate.

Final Thoughts

This horrifies me. Look, I understand that wolves are predators and any farmer would have the right to protect their land and homes, but is killing 90% of the wolf population necessary? This is a bit extreme. Humans are already destroying the homes of wildlife all over the world — it’s not the wolves or any other animals’ fault that we are destroying their habitats.

As I was writing this article, I got sick to my stomach. To think that there are actually state and government budgets for killing wolves or other animals is eye-opening.

This is beyond cruel. It’s disgusting that taxpayer dollars are being allocated to be used in such a disturbing manner. What’s next? Killing people you don’t like? I know it gets cold up in Idaho, but I didn’t think it got that cold — so cold that those who control the state government want to kill all of its wolves and the only thing stopping them is an agreement with the federal government. Sorry if I’m ranting here, but this is just insane.

There were at least 2,315 Idahoans homeless in 2020 on any given night. You would think the state could use that money to help human beings, but no, instead they want to waste it on killing animals. We, humans, are one messed-up species.

Featured photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

 
 
 
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Written By

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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