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Idaho Investigates Wolf Killings

April 4, 2008.

From Idaho Fish and Game:

Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers are investigating the shooting of two wolves on April 1 by a private landowner west of Ashton.

He contacted the local conservation officer shortly after the incident, which still is under investigation.

On March 28, gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list and management passed to Idaho Fish and Game. They are managed as big game animals, similar to black bears and mountain lions.

The state Legislature recently amended state law, with the signature of the governor, to cover wolves actively preying on livestock and domestic animals, including pets. The law allows them to kill wolves that are molesting or attacking their animals. No permit is necessary, but they must report it to Fish and Game within 72 hours, unless the site is remote.

The intent of the new law is to allow people to protect their private property, while ensuring the protection of wolves that are not causing problems, similar to existing state law for depredating black bears and mountain lions.

The livestock owner or agent has to decide whether the wolf is actively "molesting" or attacking livestock or domestic animals. Molesting means "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."

The law allows anyone to protect their animals using any nonlethal method they deem necessary. But it doesn't allow a livestock owner, employee or agent to kill a wolf if it is merely in the vicinity of their animals but not molesting or attacking them.

It is also illegal for anyone to pursue and kill a wolf away from the site when the wolf no longer is molesting or attacking the livestock or domestic animals.

The law requires livestock owners to get a permit from Fish and Game to kill wolves not actively molesting or attacking animals.

Any legal black bear or mountain lion tag holder may take that animal during the appropriate hunting season. No seasons yet exist for wolves, but Fish and Game is planning the rules for wolf seasons.

If the livestock owner or agent kills a wolf or mountain lion, they must contact a Fish and Game. Wolves must be reported within 72 hours unless access is limiting; cougars must be reported within 10 days. The person is encouraged to preserve the site for inspection.

Though state law doesn't require reporting killing a black bear while protecting livestock, it is in the livestock owner's best interest to report it as well.

The new state law and Fish and Game wolf management information is available on the agency Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.

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