Idaho House declares wolves a “disaster emergency”

The Idaho House on Tuesday approved a measure that declares the state’s wolves a “disaster emergency” — akin to a flood or wildfire — and gives the governor broad powers to eliminate them.

The bill, approved by a 64-5 vote, now heads to the Senate, where a dozen members have signed on as sponsors.

The legislation says the state’s estimated 800 wolves are compromising public safety, destroying herds of big-game animals like elk and damaging hunting and agricultural industries.

Under existing Idaho law, a state of emergency allows the governor to marshal his police powers to lessen the impact of a declared threat.

“Folks, there is an emergency,” House Speaker Lawerence Denney said during debate on the bill.

Federally protected wolves have been at the center of a bitter debate in the Northern Rockies since they were reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone in the mid-1990s over the objections of ranchers and hunters who feared for livestock and wildlife.

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