Idaho lawmakers will today, April 27, vote on whether to approve the killing as many as 90% of the state’s gray wolf population, following the Trump administration’s removal of protections for the species.
The bill, which is likely to pass thanks to the state legislature’s Republican majority, would allow hunters to kill unlimited numbers of wolves in the state each year, and is also set to remove restrictions on the methods used to trap and kill the animals.
Lawmakers seek to reduce the number of wolf packs in the state to around 15. According to The Guardian, reducing the number of packs down to this number could see more than 1,000 of the estimated 1,556 gray wolves currently living in the region killed by hunters, potentially leaving as few as 150 surviving wolves in the state.
Gray wolves were removed from the US’s endangered species list in October 2020, leading a number of states to pass laws removing restrictions on wolf hunts and approving attempts to reduce the wolf population. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages endangered species, has previously described gray wolves as ‘an integral component of the ecosystems to which it typically belongs.’
The Centre for Biological Diversity is currently suing the US Fish and Wildlife Service over the decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list, calling the Trump administration’s decision to remove protections under the Endangered Species Act ‘the broadest, most destructive delisting rule yet.’
The new law is set to be pushed through despite opposition from Idaho’s fish and game commission, which is responsible for managing wildlife in the state.
Despite their endangered status, wolves have remained a controversial species in the United States, with farmers blaming them for attacking livestock, especially cattle, resulting in economic losses.
Speaking to The Guardian, Idaho Cattle Association executive vice-president Cameron Mulroney said, ‘A cow taken by a wolf is similar to a thief stealing an item from a production line in a factory.’ Opponents to the bill say that wolf-related killings account for only a miniscule amount of cattle deaths each year, with far more lost to disease and other animal attacks.
Conservationists have warned that rolling back restrictions on wolf hunting could see the species once again placed at risk of extinction. Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Centre, told the New York Times, ‘Beyond the wanton cruelty and devastation the passage of this bill would bring to wolves, this legislation poses a threat to wolves nationwide.’
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