BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has proposed putting bounties on problem wolves and allowing hunters to lure wolves with bait.
The proposals come from the department’s Wolf Depredation Control Board, which has discussed how best to take action against the high number of wolves killing livestock and big game, the Capital Press reported earlier this week.
The board was established by the Legislature in 2014 to manage wolf-controlling funds. The board consists of representatives from the Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, the ranching industry and the general public.
“The use of sportsmen who pay for the opportunity to hunt or trap is traditionally our best method of managing wildlife populations,” Fish and Game Director Virgil Morris said.
Wolf-related livestock killings are at an all-time low, but federal funding to programs aimed at killing problem wolves has been cut, leading to the state, ranchers and sportsmen paying the bill, Morris said.
Idaho Wildlife Services killed 75 wolves in 2015 out of a statewide population of at least 786, according to a report. There were 35 cattle and 125 sheep killings that year.
Hunters, most of whom were pursuing other game, killed 139 wolves in 2016. Trappers got another 131.
Bear hunters who use bait are allowed to shoot any wolves attracted to the bait if they also hold a wolf tag, Morris said.
The proposed wolf bait rule, which must be approved by the Legislature and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, would encourage “more wolf hunters to go out in the field and just pursue a wolf, like bears,” Morris said.