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's brand renewal fee as a way to pay 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 help 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 $110,000 a year. Sportsmen groups have said they will match that amount. Sheep growers also have increased the wool assessment fee by 2 dollars per pound to raise about $25,000.
"The current fee is $.03 per pound of wool, and that will go up to $.05 per pound, with the extra $.02 going to the wolf protection effort," said Boyd.
Idaho's legislature is back in session on Jan. 6.