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DATE: May 21, 2021
SNIP: Conservative lawmakers in Idaho and Montana have passed new laws to drastically reduce the number of wolves in those states. Concerns over the animal’s impact on both livestock and wild prey have long festered among ranchers and some hunters and reached the floor of Idaho’s House of Representatives in April.

Twenty-five years ago, federal wildlife officials reintroduced wolves to Idaho. Recovery went well enough that in 2011 the animal came off the endangered species list. Since then, hunters have legally killed hundreds every year.

Idaho’s new law calls for killing up to 90% of them. Hunting wolves after hours with night vision goggles is now legal, as is using of motorized vehicles like snowmobiles or ATVs to chase them.

It’s unclear how many hunters will respond to Idaho lawmakers’ call to kill more than 1,300 wolves. The legislation also liberalized trapping rules and increased funding to hire professional exterminators, a process that can include shooting them from helicopters. Legislators moved that money from the Fish and Game budget.

Across the border in Montana there are similar new laws, although state game managers will have more say in how they’re implemented, and Montana hasn’t set an absolute number of wolves to be killed. The new laws will please ranchers in both states, many of whom have long opposed wolf reintroduction.