Once again, an attempt by Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to introduce wolf trapping in the Wood River Valley was averted through an overwhelming public outcry. This was the second time Blaine County fought this fight. In 2019, a similar proposal was abandoned after vocal public opposition.
In addition to all of the citizens and stakeholders who spoke up, our community leaders also played a vital role. The three Blaine County Commissioners, Dick Fosbury, Angenie McCleary and Jacob Greenberg, held a community meeting and subsequently crafted a resolution opposing the measure and supporting non-lethal coexistence with wolves and other wildlife.
Our state representative, Muffy Davis, and state senator, Michelle Stennett, both came out against the proposal. County Commissioner Fosbury and Representative Davis also attended the IDFG Commission meeting in person on March 17, the evening prior to the commissioners’ official vote. Furthermore, our regional representative on the IDFG Commission, Greg Cameron, remained steadfast in upholding the community’s desire to keep wolf traps out of our valley. Other IDFG commissioners challenged the idea of protecting this community and its surrounding wild places from wolf trapping, but Commissioner Cameron did not waver in his resolve to oppose this proposal.
Thanks in large part to this focused and collective effort, IDFG staff revised the original proposal and recommended against wolf trapping in Hunting Units 48 and 49, which encompass the Big Wood and Little Wood River Valleys. During the special meeting of the IDFG Commission on March 18, the commission decided to adopt the updated IDFG staff recommendation to uphold the wolf trapping ban in Units 48 and 49. IDFG staff also recommended carving out the Ada County portions of units 38 and 39 to protect the Boise Foothills and surrounding area from wolf trapping. These areas see a high volume of recreational use, and are frequented by people walking their dogs. These exclusions will greatly reduce accidents in these heavily used areas. Trapping expansion proposals in the Island Park area, bordering Yellowstone National Park were also abandoned at the suggestion of IDFG staff in light of public opposition defending outdoor recreational use interests.
Due to many of you, the proposal to open wolf trapping in Units 48 and 49 saw 1,333 Idaho residents vote against the proposal with a resounding majority of 84% opposed, and 2,329 or 88% of all respondents voting in opposition. For most other proposals, there were less than 500 total votes cast by Idaho residents.
Looming Threat from the Idaho Legislature
Although this was a win for Units 48 and 49, the Island Park area, and the Boise foothills, the vast majority of the other proposals to expand wolf hunting and trapping across the rest of the state were adopted by the IDFG Commission. Additionally, a bill was recently introduced in the Idaho House that poses an even greater threat to wolves should it gain traction. The bill intends to reduce wolves to the status of predatory wildlife. That would mean no bag limits, no seasons, and killing by any legal means – effectively a slaughter of wolves with the sole intent of drastically reducing their numbers, by as many as 2/3 of the current estimated population. The original bill was not heard by the Resources and Conservation Committee, which essentially tabled it, but there is a new bill being developed that Representative Judy Boyle still intends to introduce in the current legislative session if possible. If not this year, we anticipate seeing more anti-wolf legislation put forth in some form during next year’s 2022 legislative session. We will keep you informed of developments on this front, as it represents a tremendous blow to the recovering wolf population if passed.