Idaho Ranchers Chip in for Wolf ControlRalph Loos
Sheep Industry News Editor
Sheep ranchers in Idaho are optimistic that the state legislature will approve a plan that will help fund increased wolf protection efforts by the Idaho Wildlife Services.
The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, which had opposed raising the state brand renewal fee to be used for wolf control, reversed its stance during its annual meeting held in December. Brands in Idaho are renewed every five years, and adding $25 to the fee – or $5 per year – is expected to help make up for a roughly $750,000 decrease in funding for Wildlife Services since 2010.
“Wool growers, ranchers and cattlemen started this push about a year ago, and we see it as the cost of doing business. We’re dipping into our own pockets to get this done,” said Stan Boyd executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. “Advisory committees from the sportsmen in the state and the livestock industry got together and came up with a plan. Now all we need is the state legislature to approve.” The increase in the brand fee would raise about $100,000 a year. Sheep growers also have increased the wool assessment fee by 2 cents per pound to raise about $25,000.
“The current fee is 3 cents per pound of wool, and that will go up to 5 cents per pound, with the extra 2 cents going to the wolf protection effort,” said Boyd.
Sportsmen groups have offered to match the brand renewal fee increase made by livestock producers and that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is expected to seek up to $250,000 from the state’s general fund. Ranchers say they need $400,000 to $500,000 to make the project work.
Wildlife Services officials said that since 1995 there have been 1,064 confirmed wolf kills of livestock and 221 probable kills. The state this year has had 77 confirmed or probable wolf kills of cattle and 565 sheep kills, according to Wildlife Services. Meanwhile, the minimum estimated wolf population in Idaho peaked in 2009 at 856 and has gradually decreased to 683, officials said.
Idaho Wildlife Services officials said that since 1995 there have been 1,064 confirmed wolf kills of livestock and 221 probable kills.