Farm bureau raises brand fees to aid wolf control

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members have passed a proposal to raise the state brand renewal fee by $25 to increase funding for wolf-control efforts by Idaho Wildlife Services.

The farm bureau acted Thursday at its 74th annual meeting, the Capital Press reported. Brands in Idaho are renewed every five years.

Idaho Wildlife Services has lost about $750,000 in funding since 2010, mostly because of federal budget cuts. That has reduced the agency’s total budget to $2.1 million.

The agency said the state this year has had 77 confirmed or probable wolf kills of cattle and 565 sheep kills. The number of confirmed or probable wolf depredations so far in 2013 is down 26 percent from 2011.

“It’s slowly working its way down again,” said Idaho Wildlife Services State Director Todd Grimm, attributing some of the decrease to sport hunting seasons for wolves. “Hunting season has absolutely made a difference.”

The minimum estimated wolf population in Idaho peaked in 2009 at 856 and has gradually decreased to 683, officials said.

The increase in the brand fee would raise about $100,000 a year. Sheep growers also have increased the wool assessment fee by 2 cents per pound to raise about $25,000.

The newspaper reported that a sportsmen group has offered to match the increase made by livestock producers and that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is expected to seek up to $250,000 from the state’s general fund.

“We need $400,000; I think we’ll be closer to $500,000 when all is said and done,” said Blackfoot rancher Chris Dalley.

Idaho Wildlife Services officials said that since 1995 there have been 1,064 confirmed wolf kills of livestock and 221 probable kills.

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