Dave & Dujanovic: Idaho wolf hunt from a rancher’s and hunter’s viewpoint

May 12, 2021, 3:24 PM | Updated: 3:25 pm
wolf hunt...
FILE - This June 30, 2017 remote camera image released by the U.S. Forest Service shows a female gray wolf and her mate with a pup born in 2017 in the wilds of Lassen National Forest in Northern California. Trump administration officials on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the U.S., ending longstanding federal safeguards and putting states in charge of overseeing the predators. (U.S. Forest Service via AP, File)
(U.S. Forest Service via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Idaho lawmaker whose bill became law recently allowing private contractors to kill about 90% of the wolves roaming the private lands in the state.

Debbie Dujanovic had a conversation with Idaho Sen. Van Burtenshaw, who sponsored the wolf-hunt bill. He stressed his intent behind the legislation is not to exterminate the entire wolf population but to manage the predators.

Backers of the bill said there are too many wolves in Idaho. They’re attacking cattle, sheep and wildlife, costing agriculture producers hundreds of thousands of dollars and reducing the number of deer and elk available for hunters, according to Idaho Press.

The Humane Society of the United States has called Idaho’s wolf hunt a “death warrant.”

‘Death warrant’ or livestock protection?

“Idaho is trying to reduce the wolf population from 1,500 wolves to 150 wolves. Now, you can say it’s not a death warrant, but if you’re going to kill 1,300 wolves, I mean, that’s a death warrant. Now, it may be necessary, but let’s call it what it is that is a massive reduction, 90% reduction,” said Dave Noriega.

Debbie added Burtenshaw said the news media is not fairly representing the Idaho cattle ranchers’ side of this news story.

“OK, hold on a second there,” Debbie replied. “At first blush when I read the headline. I did cringe, I did. And then after speaking to [Burtenshaw] today. I got a much better understanding of why Idaho is pursuing this avenue. . . . He told me what happened in one of his fellow lawmakers. His sheep herd has been met time and time again by packs of wolves.

“He kept track of over $400,000 worth of livestock. And among that livestock, the wolves have killed about 39 of his guard dogs in the process. So it isn’t like he hasn’t tried to take measures to watch over the sheep. But if those wolves come in and packs, they kill those dogs pretty quick, and then have access to the sheep,” Burtenshaw said.

“How many businesses can handle a $400,000 loss?” Dave asked.

“My heart sank for the dogs,” Debbie said.

“39 dogs. That’s incredible,” Dave replied.

“I’m a dog owner . .  so I’m starting to see now the other side of the story. I’m starting to see why lawmakers and why the governor put this law in place. I know there are people who don’t agree with it. I’m not for or against it. I’m just trying to share both sides of the story here,” Debbie said. 

Complexity of a wolf hunt 

Burtenshaw tried to explain why it’s so difficult to kill a wolf… let alone hunt a wolf. 

“Last year, we sold nearly 50,000 [hunting] tags, and only 500 wolves were taken. They’re tough to hunt. They’re apex predators. They are smart, intelligent and travel large distances. And so if they depredated in your herd today, you may not see them because they’ll be 100 miles away in the next couple of days,” he said.

“Well that gives great insight to why they’ve expanded the way you can hunt wolves, bringing in helicopters and snowmobiles and ATVs and using night vision goggles,” Dave replied.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 


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Dave & Dujanovic: Idaho wolf hunt from a rancher’s and hunter’s viewpoint