Idaho State Legislature Passes Bill To Kill Wildlife/Wolves "Molesting" Domestic Animals

Some people tend to forget that state management of wolves isn’t a responsibility exclusively reserved to the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, a department that’s allegedly insulated from politicization. I slip “allegedly” in there because anyone who’s been paying attention to wildlife issues in the state has a good idea that the Livestock lobby pretty much holds its will over the head of even our good ol’ boy governor “Butch” Otter, let alone the IDF&G (See: Idaho Interim Bighorn Management Plan). The lobby exercises its authority most prominently in the legislature, where last week House lawmakers passed SENATE BILL NO. 1374. The bill sets the bar for “disposal” of wolves, which we’ll see below the fold, but for this space we’ll set the mood with with a characteristic sampling of the mentality behind the governing body that will hold authority over “managing” wolves in the state of Idaho come Friday.

The bill starts :

10 […]any person may control, trap, and/or remove any
11 wild animals or birds or may destroy the houses, dams, or other structures of
12 furbearing animals for the purpose of protecting property from the
13 depredations thereof as hereinafter provided.

That the Idaho legislature would spend its time clarifying the “rules of engagement” for its perpetual War on Wildlife is a telling indication of its priority and its intention. It ought give those wolf advocates who find themselves compelled to trust this state pause. But I digress…

Of wolves, the Idaho legislature recognized that illegal take would be the largest threat to maintaining wolves in the state when in its 2002 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan it said (p. 21) :

Illegal taking of wolves will be difficult to prevent, but is potentially the major impediment to restoration and orderly management of this species. Rigorous enforcement of laws and regulations in order to minimize illegal take, and to reduce adverse public perception of management will be needed.

Apparently, this statement was little more than pillow-talk, and now that the deed is next to being done – come Friday, six years later, the legislature is demonstrating its regard for the “rigorous enforcement of laws and regulations.”

The House made a few amendments to the recent bill, SENATE BILL NO. 1374, before passing it along to “Butch”. One amendment includes defining the conditions justifying the “disposal” of a wolf should wolves ‘conflict’ with livestock or domestic animals such as dogs. A “molesting” wolf is one that is:

41 […]annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injuri-
42 ous effect, or chasing, driving, flushing, worrying, following after or on the
43 trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals.
[emphasis mine]

I’m surprised they left out the infamous “stink-eye”, though I suppose such a dirty look might constitute hostile intent. What, pray tell, will constitute illegal take of a wolf in Idaho ? How will it be enforced/proven to be illegal under this standard of ‘legal’ take ?

To add insult to injury, wolf-killers will have 72 hours to report their ‘take’ of a wolf.

By Idaho’s own admission the greatest “impediment to restoration and orderly management” is illegal take.  What does it say about their intention for wolves when they nearly unanimously pass legislation crippling any chance of  preventing it ?

In Wyoming, they don’t hide their legalized and arbitrary intention to slaughter wolves.  In Idaho, they give the act of arbitrarily killing wolves the lip-service of illegality, then make any protective regulation impossible to enforce.

The bill was passed by the senate and last Wednesday amended and passed by the house on a vote of 65 – 4. “Butch’s” move.




  1. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    This bill allows the killing of wolves for so many reasons under so many vague and common situations that it is apparent no person could be prosecuted for illegal take.

    This bill virtually makes legal the killing of a wolf anytime, anywhere. This is devastating news, I am greatly saddened, it really shows the depth of hatred and animosity toward wolves in Idaho.

    I thought Wyoming was going to be the villain of the 3 states?

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Idaho anti-wolf politicians are much more sophisticated (or maybe just have different goals) than Wyoming.

    I think Wyoming is more interested in making a political statement even if it causes wolves to remain listed.

    Idaho livestock politicians truly want to kill wolves, and they have moved in a quiet manner (most of the time) constructing a legal structure to do it.

  3. Buffaloed Avatar

    Shouldn’t this trigger a review of Idaho’s wolf management plan?

  4. Harmony Avatar

    Aren’t they just asking for the Fed’s to take control again? How on earth are they going to “manage” the minimum population of 10 breeding pairs if they allow anyone at anytime to kill a wolf? How can you kill off a species at the same time that you are to manage it for growth and reintoduction?

  5. jimbob Avatar

    As a science educator for 20 plus years I am ready to give up. What is the point in educating people? How can supposedly educated, reasonable thinking people who are supposed to represent ALL of the public write this type of legislation? It’s either ignorance or BLATANT disregard for the will of the people and what is right!
    I should note that I have been a regular visitor to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho for 10 years. This year I will stay away. It might be noted that I have never traveled there to see cows, dead predators, or real live cowboys. (I also never traveled there to see real live legislators straight out of the 1880’s!) I have however spent 10’s of thousands of dollars there over the last 10 years. Interesting.

  6. Jesse Avatar

    So if I am reading this right, landowners can destroy wolf dens if a nearby wolf is killing livestock. Or do the specific rules applying to wolves overule the first part?

  7. Buffaloed Avatar


    There is an advertisement in the Long Valley Advocate today for a public meeting in Cascade on April 2nd.

    I would encourage anybody that would be interested in being physically assaulted by Ron to attend with a video camera and a can of pepper spray.

    Here is the text of the ad:


    The Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition (a non-profit, grassroots organization), will hold a public meeting in Cascade.

    It will be held at the American Legion Hall April 2, 2008 at 7 p.m.

    Chairman Ron Gillette will inform citizens about the ballot initiative for wolf management proposed by the IAWC.

    Please visit our web site:


  8. Brian Ertz Avatar


    it’s good to see you on ~

    this is unclear to me as well. the bill went from allowing general destruction of wildlife homes/structures into more specifically defining the allowances for killing wolves later in the text.

    so, if (i can’t tell either way) landowners can destroy wolf dens ~ the wolf wouldn’t have to be killing livestock – the wolf could be looking at livestock (or dog etc.) in a hostile way.

    just a note, at the jerome ‘open house’ during the ‘browse around the room asking questions’ session, a man approached steve nadeau and asked whether there will be a hound hunt with wolves — whether hunters will be allowed to use dogs… steve (and the rest of us) got a bewildered look on his face and asked why anyone would want to risk their dogs on a wolf hunt. nadeau said that he hadn’t even thought of the idea.

    reading this bill brought me back to that —

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    In the Old World, it was called the Russian Wolfhound; and it was an effective “natural” tool for hunting and killing wolves. It was bred to run down and capture wolves, which traditionally were killed by the hunter with a knife when he arrived on the scene. You might think of the Wolfhound as a kind of biological snowmobile in the wolf hunt.

    That Steve Nadeau didn’t think of it doesn’t lead me to think much of Steve Nadeau as a “trophy game” biologist. People have been running down cats with dogs in this country for a long time. It only stands to reason that people would want to do it with wolves

  10. JB Avatar

    Here are the relevant sections of text:

    “(c) Control of Depredation of Wolves. Wolves may be disposed of by live-stock or domestic animal owners, their employees, agents and animal damage control personnel when the same are molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals and it shall not be necessary to obtain any permit from the department. Wolves so taken shall be reported to the director within seventy-two (72) hours, with additional reasonable time allowed if access to the sitewhere taken is limited. Wolves so taken shall remain the property of the stateand shall be turned over to the director upon request. Livestock and domestic animal owners may take all nonlethal steps they deem necessary to protect
    their property but a permit must be obtained from the director to control wolves not molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals except as allowed by Idaho department of fish and game harvest regulations.”


    …”molesting” shall mean the actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, driving, flushing,
    worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals.”.

    Under this definition, ranchers could pretty much kill a wolf on sight, as long as there were livestock present.

  11. Catbestland Avatar

    There is also the Irish Wolfhound. There is a popular and ancient legend that a young Prince (of Wales I believe), while at his hunting retreat left his infant son on a bed guarded by his most trusted wolfhound. He returned to find the infant gone and the wolfhound lying by the bed with blood all around. The prince drew his sword and immediately killed the wolfhound. Then heard the infant crying under the bed and foud the body of the dead wolf. He supposedly dedicated his life to promoting this large breed which nearly disappeared until early 1900’s when renewed interest by dog show enthusiasts sparked a breeding campaign.

    Not much to do with the hunting of wolves in the west but a good story none the less.

  12. Howard Avatar

    The name of the Irish wolfhound in this story is Gelert, a gift of King John to Llewelyn the Great. After killing Gelert and learning of his error, Llewelyn erected a monument to the dog. In some legends, it said that after wrongfully slaying Gelert, Llewelyn never smiled again.

  13. Howard Avatar

    Not to detract or distract from the point of this thread—Idaho’s extremely open ended wolf regulations that will essentially make it impossible for any wolf killing to be illegal– but this did remind me of a question about the Russian wolfhound or Borzoi. Was the traditional hunting wolfhound of Russia larger than the wolfhounds/borzois one sees today in the US? I have difficulty believing the borzois I have seen could kill a wolf (or, restrain a wolf for the hunter without getting killed itself).

  14. Catbestland Avatar

    Thanks Howard for adding clarification to the Irish Wolfhound story. I agree, I can’t imagine that a modern Russian wolfhound or (Borzoi) would be capable of bringing down a wolf even in groups. The Irish Wolfhound, the much larger and stronger of the two coursing hounds, may fare better. But I would imagine anyone who tried to use the typical scent hounds seen in lion or bear hunting would end up with a pack of dead hounds.

  15. Brian Ertz Avatar

    how valuable are the hounds ? how much training, breeding, etc. ? the balance of this risk is what seems would make the endeavor worthwhile for a hunter or not.

    JB –

    the bill includes any domestic animals/property, including dogs, which is how it’d be impossible to enforce and prone to abuse as a dog can be taken where-ever.

  16. Catbestland Avatar

    It takes a lot of time and effort to train hounds. I would think that the loss of pack of hounds would not be worth what would be gained by the killing of one or two wolves. I’m not sure how many wolves a hunter would be allowed to take at one time. And Irish wolfhounds are not cheap. The scent hounds used in hunting bear and lion are probably nonspecific crosses and not that hard to come by but they still take time and effort to train.

  17. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I believe the tactic used in Europe was to run the wolf to exhaustion; the wolfhounds would hold the exhausted wolf down and the hunter, when he approached, would kill the wolf with a knife or a spear.

  18. Catbestland Avatar


    Exactly, that is the difference in a coursing hound which runs a target down. ( That is why you see a lot of them with rough coats for tearing through brush. ) And scent hounds which track. (foxhounds, beagles, blood hounds and the like) and sight hounds, which are usually very fast, and chase hare and what not. (Izbibiffen, Greyhounds, Pharoh hounds etc.) The Irish wolf hound is a large strong and formidable opponent (in numbers) for the wolf. But fortunately for wolf lovers they are also pretty expensive.

  19. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Gov. “Butch” Otter signed the bill into law in Idaho last Friday

  20. Sisuitl Avatar

    On the subject of whether borzois are capable of engaging wolves and coming out ahead, they most certainly can, and would if they had the opportunity to come in contact. Borzoi males are upwards of 36 inches at the shoulder, and can sustain a 35 mph run for several miles, unlike the greyhound which tires out very quickly. I own borzoi. My favorite dog’s sire is used as a livestock guardian on a goat dairy, where once in a while they go out in the morning and discover 1-3 coyotes dead in the goat pen. Coyotes aren’t as big as wolves, but 3 on 1 against any sized dog is a hard fight. I know of another borzoi owner whose neighbor’s rottweiler dug under her fence and began fighting her borzoi. The fight ended with a dead rottweiler. They may look “foofy”, but don’t let looks fool you. This is a breed created specifically to hunt/fight wolves, and they have all the equipment necessary to win.

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Brian Ertz