The Idaho Senate approved legislation allowing the governor to declare a disaster emergency due to its wolf population. Supporters say it adds another way for the state to control its wolves, while opponents say wolves aren’t an emergency.

Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, said the emergency declaration could be an ace up Gov. Butch Otter’s sleeve as he works with federal officials on wolves. He also said a declaration could allow Otter to declare open season on wolves.

“He has most of this power already now,” Pearce said about the governor. “What we’re doing is giving him legislative support.”

An emergency declaration would empower the governor’s Office of Species Conservation to work to prevent danger caused by wolves, including killing wolves. An emergency could be triggered by having more than 100 wolves in the state, well below the current estimate of at least 705 wolves in Idaho.

The Senate held the only public hearing the legislation is likely to get, and proponents held a rally on the Capitol steps that drew approximately 40 people, including five House Republicans.

During the Senate hearing, Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt said the state should follow the county, which has already declared a disaster. “Idaho has to take action,” Brandt said. “We can’t wait any longer.”

At the rally, Ron Gillett of Stanley with the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, called the wolves an animal of mass destruction. “The only way you can manage Canadian wolves in Idaho is to get rid of them.”

Karen Calisterio from Benewah County said she was recently trapped by four wolves in her driveway. “Until something is done about these wolves, I’m a prisoner in my own home,” she said. Calisterio said that she relives the event in her nightmares and that she hears wolves outside her house several nights a week.

The Senate panel heard from critics of the legislation. “There is no wolf emergency right now,” said Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife. Stone said there’s no reported incidents of people being injured, and that other animals, including black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, dogs, and cattle have been more dangerous than wolves. She said the opposition to wolves is due to misinformation, which starts with childhood fairy tales.

Stone said the facts stated in the legislation, including that wolves are threatening Idaho’s businesses and citizens and that they’ve made walking, berry picking and other activities less safe, aren’t true. She also said the legislation won’t burnish Idaho’s image.

“It certainly sends a bad message around the world that Idaho can’t be trusted and people put more faith in Little Red Riding Hood than science,” Stone told

The plan passed the Senate Resources and Environment Committee on a 7-2 vote, with Democrats in opposition. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, said the disaster declaration could set back Idaho’s efforts to regain state management of wolves.

Werk also said part of the legislation allowing the Legislature to rescind the wolf emergency is unconstitutional. “We can’t tell the governor what to do,” Werk said. He offered an opinion from the attorney general’s office saying it could violate the doctrine of separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. That opinion said it could be unconstitutional for the Legislature to void a disaster declaration without giving the governor a chance to veto the action.

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who supports the plan, says that part of the legislation is lifted from state laws currently on the books. Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, said the existing law has yet to be challenged in court.

The Senate approved the plan on a 27-8 vote. Two Republican senators, Curt McKenzie of Nampa and Joe Stegner of Lewiston, opposed the plan because it could give the governor too much power. “I think this is a worthy goal we’re trying to achieve, but I don’t know if this is the right way to do it,” McKenzie said.

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

Note: is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which helped write the legislation.

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  1. Leave these wolves alone; they are nat.predator for the Wild Mustangs/burros that the BLMseems to think that have to kill in order for the beef industry to exist? Every body blames the Mustangs/burros for no grass but you haul off all the horses and immediately plunk down sheep and cows? Lions, bear, wolves are nat pred. To wild horses. If you kill everything in sight; you won’t have anything to blame anything on. Just remember you rode in on those horses yrs. Ago; they brought you here

  2. Just when you thought the radical anti-wolfers had proven their intelligence, along comes this legislation. Folks like Gillette are sick people. The level of hatred he and his cronies -including the legislators, preach is nothing but illness. Their anti-wolf platform is guided by so much misinformation and paranoia they make Montana look progressive. What a bunch of babies. God help you all if there’s an earthquake…
    By the way, what gives humans more right to the elk than wolves? Wolves don’t have welfare and Walmart, they have to work for a living and their meals. No 3,000 feet per second bullets, GPS, or elk calls. They’re true hunters…Wolves, sorry to fill you in, are back to stay. Forever. They’ll be here long after your hate filled lives are over.

  3. Karen Calistero is an anti wolf activist. What she refers to here as being “trapped” in her driveway by wolves, she first described as walking up her driveway seeing what she thought was her dogs waiting for her on top of the hill in front of her house, then she realized it wasn’t her dogs because there were four of them. She jumps to conclusion they are wolves. She starts backing up, the wolves come towards her until they dart out of the driveway through the bushes, never to be seen again. They most likely HAD to go towards her to get back to the way they came in. Do these people have no conscience? Do they realize how foolish they sound? The only wolf related emergency we have in Idaho is the B.S. getting deeper every day.

  4. This is a disgrace. Such a misuse and abuse of government. If the people who live there don’t stand up to this they will pay the price for giving their government so much unchecked power. leave the wolves alone and stop making a mockery of the legislative process.

  5. I think you meant 1000, “An emergency could be triggered by having more than 100 wolves in the state, well below the current estimate of at least 705 wolves in Idaho.”

  6. I thing people that want what is right for the animals and want the wolf to stay in the wilds of Idaho need to look at histroy books a little closer. When Lewis and Clark came through this country they had to eat there horses to servive bucause this area had a wolf population and no Elk The St Joe National Forest or St Joe River drainage dident have a population of Elk that you could count untill 1937 when a few sportsman put together the money to have them planted I know this because my grandad was one of those people. So when people start pointing ther finger at the sportsman and saying we are the bad guys because we have guns and hunt the elk and why can’t the wolf? I say we as people can be regulated why cant the wolf?

  7. More dictator governors, what is this country coming to….

  8. […] Despite the mob-like atmosphere, our Northern Rockies representative Suzanne Stone stood up for wolves and testified on their behalf before the Idaho Senate Natural Resources Committee. Suzanne also attended the Idaho Anti-wolf coalition rally where approximately 30 people gathered to protect wolves and gave on-camera interviews for local news media including ABC, NBC and Fox news affiliates, NPR, and several newspaper and online media sources. […]

  9. This is disgusting. The goverment should worry about fixing this country, not wolves. Leave the wolves alone. Let mother nature do her job. You focus on yours.

  10. […] Karen Calisterio, who spoke in support of the bill at a public hearing at the statehouse in Boise last week, said four wolves recently trapped her in the driveway of her Benewah County home. […]

  11. I drive a log truck.
    I have seen the good and the bad of the wolf.
    Good there cool to watch.
    Bad they kill for sport.
    Sport is when a ELK carcuss is left half eaten and there is another 20 feet from it half eaten.
    I drive in the mountains all day every day to get logs.
    So before you say they are not threatening anyone or anything
    Try looking in the mountains not the city.
    Wolves dont live in Boise or Spokane.
    And as for fairytales this is a real issue.
    Hunting elk is a way to feed people and families.
    Sorry but feeding my kids is way more important then your pretty pics.
    You may not like what I say but hunting is way better then welfare and or starveing.
    Have a good day and dont be mean just make a way to control the wolves. and hunting them is a reasonable choice.

  12. Wolves don’t kill for sport.
    They are opportunists -they get what they can when they can.

    They return to their kills for 6-8 months afterwards. I have seen it for over 30 years hunting adn traveling in Alaska, Canada, Montana & Idaho. When you see a 1/2 eaten carcass, return in a weeek, then a month…all gone. No waste, nothing. Complete utilization.

    Wolves don’t have coolers, zip-lock bags or Safeway -think about humans hundreds of years ago. When we hunted buffalo, how many did we kill? Dozens & dozens.

    Did we sit there and consume 3 tons of meat at once?

    I agree, however, that a reasonable hunt is right.

    Declaring a state wide emergency due to wolves, however, is going to do the Idaho politicians/fools/wolf-haters more harm than good.

    Wait for the boycots of Idaho…big time.

  13. Why hasn’t broader usage of tracking technology been applied to large, recuperating species?

    Specifically, surely it is no longer catastrophically expensive to track packs of animals. Now there is this dangerous situation in Idaho where Legislatures are seeking to legalize the extermination of wolf packs by law officers. With only 700 wolves considered by locals as an infestation, the reality is that current management practices for dangerous animals are not sufficient and without stopping Idaho’s legislatures push, these wolves recovery will be devastated before we know it.

    So why not track their entire packs? Practically real time updates on their locations would allow their interception when encroaching on populated areas. Being able to apply non-lethal conditioning to animals approaching such off limit zones could train intelligent animals like wolves to avoid populated areas.

    If anyone can run with this type of idea, more power to them. I just hate seeing life wasted needlessly.

  14. […] The Legislature approved a plan to let the governor declare a wolf emergency that one lawmaker said could lead to open season on wolves. However, that legislation said an emergency would be ended once federal protection for wolves is […]

  15. It’s amazing that the pro-wolf comments are well-written and well-versed, while the anti-wolf comments have the most horrendous spelling and grammar, leaving the reader to automatically assume the writer is not very intelligent.
    In my opinion, there are more than 700 people with guns in Idaho. I’d be more afraid of leaving my house because of that than a wolf.

  16. Idaho is a laughingstock. The rich control your state, not the wolves. Wolves do not attack humans, and would anyone argue that there were fewer than 150 before humans began to eat up the land? Elk herds needed to be put in check. Sorry if the hunters (i am one) have to actually work for it. The anti-wolf lobby has never had an argument that has held water. Never. Wolves have bettered/restored the ecosystem everywhere they have been re-introduced. Anit-wolf is the same as anti-future for the ecosystem. The wolf has a right.

  17. What a disgace. How shortsighted can you be. 700 wolves is just to much to handle with over 83,000 miles of territory at your disposal. You all claim to be god fearing people but your willingness to eliminate a species of animal because it dings your bottom line, say’s otherwise. “If it don’t conform, kill it”, is that your state motto. I hope everyone boycotts your entire state. See what happens to your bottom line then.

  18. I believe that any state has the right to set their own hunting and fishing regulations for any species in their state without federal intervention. I think that these decisions should be made by Game and Fish departments studys supplemented with public input then inacted to law. I hope decisions will come soon and be enacted asap as there is a very real problem in all of the states wolves are present.

  19. Anybody who thinks wolves kill for sport should take a biology class. Wolves kill for food and survival period. The only species to kill for sport is humans. Ron Gillett is only concerned about his own pocketbook, not about a healthy eco-system. He is guilty of the most ignorant type of anthropormorphism when he claims wolves are cruel. He wants to slaughter animals, that idiot should look in a mirror if he wants to see a cruel animal.

  20. Ron Gillette is a class-A crackpot. He considers himself a “rancher” but I’ve seen first hand what he really is: a fake, all-sizzle-no- steak, wannabe cowboy lunatic. He runs a dinky hotel with nothing resembling a ranch or a hunting outfitter. He’s a hateful delusional phony.

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