SB 1211: Open season on wolves, again – 2021
ICL's position: Oppose
Current Bill Status: Law
Idaho already has liberal hunting and trapping seasons. Existing guidelines allow for up to 20 wolves (10 hunted and 10 trapped) to be taken each season by one person, depending on the hunting zone.
Despite this, on the 100th day of the 2021 Legislative Session, Sen. Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs) introduced Senate Bill 1211 to dramatically expand the removal, hunting, and trapping of wolves across the state. SB 1211 would allow unlimited killings with a goal of reducing the number of wolves from an estimated 1,500 down to 150.
The bill discounts the fact that wolves can be already shot anytime they are attacking, threatening, or harassing livestock on both private and public lands.
What’s more, Idaho’s 1938 citizens’ initiative, establishing the Fish and Game Commission, was developed to ensure that wildlife decisions were guided by an independent board. Over 76% of Idahoans agreed that all wildlife, including wild animals, birds, and fish were the property of the state and its people. They further declared that decisions about fish and wildlife management should be entrusted to an independent commission, free from political influence.
If the Idaho Legislature grabs the steering wheel on wolves, this takes the authority away from the independent Fish and Game Commission. Wildlife management then becomes a political issue and could upend management of other species we care about.
Finally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision to delist wolves from the endangered species list relied upon the Idaho Wolf Plan (2002). This decision requires the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to make management decisions, such as classifying wolves as a big game species, ensuring wolves are able to interact with other wolf populations in neighboring states, and confirming that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) applies scientific principles to wolf management. SB 1211 undermines each of these requirements and could result in a relisting of wolves under the Endangered Species Act, placing them, once again, under federal management.
This bill would upend how we manage big game, overturn how IDFG manages public resources, and undo the trust that Idahoans have forged by working together. Passage of SB 1211 threatens to return wolves to the protections of the Endangered Species Act and remove management authority from the IDFG.