Board seeks $200,000 to kill wolves

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BOISE — A $200,000 budget request by Gov. Brad Little for an Idaho board that manages money to pay a federal and state agency to kill wolves that attack livestock and big game is sufficient for fiscal year 2020, a board member told lawmakers Wednesday.

“We’re fine with the $200,000 this year,” Wolf Depredation Control Board member Carl Rey told the budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, noting the board has a surplus this year.

“I will tell you that I don’t think that is sustainable beyond fiscal year 2020,” he said.

The board contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and Idaho Department of Fish and Game to kill wolves that attack cattle, sheep, deer and elk. Besides money from the state’s general fund, it also gets money from the livestock and sheep industry and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Wildlife Services confirmed 109 killings of livestock by wolves between July 1 and Sept. 30 last year, Rey said. The federal agency reported 87 different livestock producers in 15 counties made reports, he said. The agency reported the investigations found wolves killed 29 cows, 48 calves, 89 sheep and three dogs.

The board is scheduled to end its work in June, but legislation is planned to keep the board operating into the future.

Fish and Game last year estimated Idaho had 90 packs. The agency doesn’t count individual wolves or provide an overall wolf count number. But it notes that a typical Idaho wolf pack has six to nine wolves — meaning about 540 to 810 wolves in the state.

Lawmakers will decide on the budget request in the coming weeks.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman with recent information on how many wolves Wildlife Services has killed in Idaho was on furlough Wednesday because of the government shutdown and not available for comment.

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