On May 5, 2021, Idaho Governor Brad Little approved a bill known as SB1211 to target and eradicate 90 percent of the Gray Wolf population in Idaho, which has dramatically increased to 1,500 since their reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. The bill lifts nearly all restrictions on hunting these predators, for instance, trapping, using night vision equipment, shooting from vehicles, and baiting. Idaho politicians allowed this bill on account of the concern that wolves harshly affect people that rely on livestock or game as income by preying on cattle and driving away elk herds. Humans, especially farmers and hunters compete with wolves for land, resources, and safety, causing resentment and tension between the two species.
As this bill hit the news, outrage struck wildlife biologists, conservationists, environmentalists, and large hunting groups. The Idaho Fish and Game protested the bill, stating that the approach differs from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and withdraws officials’ decisions on managing wildlife and puts those decisions into the hands of lawmakers. They declare that wolves are a crucial part of a healthy ecosystem and believe that eradicating 90 percent of the wolf population could be incredibly harmful to Yellowstone.
The eradication of wolves happened before, in 1926, and resulted in native Gray Wolves becoming endangered. The harm caused by the endangerment of wolves led wildlife officials to introduce 31 Canada Gray Wolves into Yellowstone in January of 1995. Wildlife services are worried that they may have to repeat the cycle of reintroducing wolves, which previously cost nearly $200,000 to $1 million. Although if wolves were to continue to increase in number, it could significantly affect farmers’ and hunters’ livelihoods and income.
The SB1211 bill the government accepted has created controversy and anger between wildlife officials, Idaho politicians, farmers, and hunters, causing immense anxiety about whether or not this bill will be effective.