Saturday, February 7, 2015

ID #Wolf board asks for more money, lawmakers raise concern over expense

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By Jake Melder. CREATED Feb 3, 2015 
For  $400,000 wolf and man could live in peace - that's the argument of the Wolf Depredation Ccontrol Board.

Wolves are responsible for thinning elk herds and killing livestock. That's where the Board steps in. They fund outfits like USDA Wildlife Services to kill problem wolves. But it comes with a price tag.
Last year 31 wolves were killed and the Board spent a $140,000. At more than forty-five hundred dollars a wolf, that had lawmakers asking questions.

"The reality is there are many many other activities that are taking place alongside lethal control," said Board member Carl Rey in response to the budget question.

He said the bill for depredation includes helicopter surveillance, tagging and tracking of wolves - not just a bullet - which is why they're asking for another $400,00 in funding this year. That number has also been recommended by Governor Otter.

"We feel like we're going to need it if we have a normal year of depredation control activity," said Rey.

The majority of wolf control comes through hunts sanctioned by fish and game. Those efforts have taken the wolf population in the state from 800 to 600. Environmental groups say it’s a dangerous trend that could put the wolf back on the Endangered Species List. State officials disagree.

“It’s not about eliminating animals, it’s about management,” said Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore.

Moore said there are still kinks to work out. Seven of the state’s hunting districts are short on elk numbers thanks to wolf predation. The eventual goal is to have enough hunting so wolves can live in the state without negatively impacting farmers or hunters.