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Idaho anti-wolf legislation leads conservation groups to petition for disqualified funding

27 conservation groups petitioned for Idaho and Montana to lose funding over anti-wolf legislation enacted in 2021.

BOZEMAN, Mont. —

On Thursday, 27 conservation groups filed a petition calling for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to disqualify Idaho and Montana from receiving millions in federal conservation funding over anti-wolf legislation the states enacted in 2021. 

The funding in question is provided through the Pittman-Roberston Act, which is distributed to the states by the Secretary of the Interior to support conservation projects. The Secretary of the Interior is also capable of disqualify states for the funding should they pass legislation that contradicts the Pittman-Roberston Act’s conservation intentions.

RELATED: US agency to limit predator killing methods in Idaho

"Montana and Idaho have relied on anti-wolf rhetoric to pass aggressive laws permitting the widespread slaughter of wolves with zero basis in ethics or science," said Andrea Zaccardi, carnivore conservation legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "These new laws run completely contrary to conservation goals, and they should disqualify both states from receiving federal funding." 

Idaho’s law allows the state to hire private contractors to hunt and kill wolves. Hunters can kill an unlimited number of wolves as long as they buy tags for each one, and trapping is permitted year-round on private land in Idaho.

RELATED: Wolves blamed for death of 143 lambs and sheep near Shaw Mountain

Montana’s law allows hunters to bait and lure wolves, use strangulation snares on public and private land. The new law allows Montana hunters to purchase up to ten wolf-hunting licenses, the trapping season has been extended by four weeks and a bounty program has been approved to reimburse hunters and trappers for any costs incurred for killing wolves. 

Wildlife biologists, scientists, game wardens, commissioners and community members have spoken out against Idaho and Montana’s new wolf-killing tactics as violating principles of "fair chase" and conflicting with duties to sustainably manage wolves. 

"Montana and Idaho have proven they'll stop at nothing to eradicate wolves across the landscape," said Zaccardi. "They can't be trusted to manage predators and shouldn't receive federal funding to carry out their unscientific and incredibly reckless wildlife-management programs."

RELATED: Judge restores protections for gray wolves across much of US

Idaho has received more than $75 million in funding authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act and its companion Sport Fish Restoration Act over the last five years, while Montana received more than $99 million from 2015 to 2019. 

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