Livestock Deaths-Wolves Lawsuit

In this Jan. 14, 1995, file photo, a wolf leaps across a road into the wilds of Central Idaho.

BOISE — A bill making the Wolf Depredation Control Board permanent is now law.

On Wednesday Gov. Brad Little signed the bill, which removes a sunset clause from the board's existence and some fees that help fund it. The board would have disbanded in 2020 if lawmakers hadn't renewed it.

“This law protects Idaho’s rural communities, ranchers, farmers, and sportsmen and is a long-term solution with a three-way partnership between livestock owners, sportsmen, and the Idaho Legislature," Rep. Laurie Lickley, R-Jerome, who sponsored the bill in the House, said in a statement. "Idaho is further ahead than our neighboring states but still has a lot of work to do."

The board, which is in charge of killing wolves that prey on livestock or deer and elk herds, is funded by a mix of fees on livestock producers, Fish and Game fees and general fund money. Farmers, ranchers and Republican lawmakers, who generally opposed the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho in the 1990s,  have generally supported the board, although a few of the most conservative House Republicans voted against its extension due to concerns about the board's spending and about making another government agency permanent. Conservation groups and some Democrats have been critical of the board and urged the state to adopt a wolf control approach that includes more non-lethal measures.

The board contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, and that agency has conducted 207 depredation investigations for 115 ranchers in 16 counties this fiscal year, House Republicans said in a news release.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.