Early data indicates the state’s wolf population is holding steady
BOISE — Idaho’s wolf population appears to be holding steady despite recent changes by lawmakers that allow extended methods and seasons for killing wolves, the state’s top wildlife official said Oct. 6. .
Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever told lawmakers on the Interim Natural Resources Committee that preliminary data on human-caused and natural wolf mortality resembled those of the previous three years.
He also said the agency is using changes in wolf hunting laws that could lead to more wolves being killed in areas with livestock conflicts or where elk herds are below population goals, potentially through a wolf hunting reimbursement program for qualified trappers and hunters.
Schriever, in a graph presented to lawmakers, showed the state’s wolf population from 2019 to 2021 fluctuates with a high of over 1,600 in May when cubs are born to a low of around 800 in April. while wolves die by natural mortality, hunting or trapping.
Idaho lawmakers in 2021 approved a rancher-backed law that dramatically expanded wolf culling in what some lawmakers said could reduce the wolf population by 90 percent. Backers said it would reduce the wolf population and attacks on livestock while boosting deer and elk herds.
Last year, Idaho wildlife officials also announced that the state would make $200,000 available to distribute in payments to hunters and trappers who kill wolves in the state.
However, there were concerns that the new rules would overstep the mark, because if the state’s wolf population fell below 150, the US Fish and Wildlife Service could take over management of the state’s wolves.
In addition to implementing the reimbursement scheme, the law passed in 2021 also expanded the methods of killing wolves to include trapping and trapping wolves on a single hunting tag, no restrictions on hunting hours, the use of night vision equipment with a permit, the use of bait and dogs and allowing hunting from motor vehicles. It also authorized year-round wolf trapping on private property.
Governor seeks FBI reinforcements amid crime
SANTA FE — New Mexico’s Democratic governor has asked the federal Justice Department to assign more FBI agents to the state in response to violent crimes.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement Wednesday that she wants to replicate the success of a recent increase in FBI resources and agents in Buffalo, New York.
The Sept. 15 letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland describes a recent spate of homicides in Albuquerque and says “additional federal agents are needed to ease the current strain on law enforcement agencies.” of New Mexico”. Lujan Grisham sent a similar request in June to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Lujan Grisham’s spokeswoman, Nora Meyers Sackett, said the governor’s office did not receive a response from the Justice Department as of Wednesday evening.
Crime concerns are a big theme in the gubernatorial race ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, as Lujan Grisham seeks a second term. Republican candidate and former TV weatherman Ronchetti painted a dire picture of public safety conditions, railing against the state’s bail system and promising a different approach to judicial appointments.
Lujan Grisham touts the state’s recent investments in crime reduction grants, an increase in state police salaries and new spending on local police recruitment and job retention – but says that more is needed.
Some state lawmakers are debating a higher alcohol tax rate
SANTA FE — New Mexico has the worst alcohol-related death rate in the nation at nearly 2,000 people a year, and some lawmakers are debating whether the state liquor tax should be higher.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services has chosen a liquor tax increase as one of its top priorities for next year.
But some lawmakers are unsure how much to raise the liquor tax, whether to change how taxes are collected and what to do with the revenue generated.
New Mexico charges alcohol wholesalers a fixed amount per volume of beverages they sell to retailers, who raise prices to consumers to cover the surcharge.
Experts say higher taxes reduce some of the harmful effects of alcohol by making excessive consumption more expensive.
Alcohol taxes also generate revenue that can fund prevention and treatment services.
But the New Mexican reports that state rates are not adjusting as inflation drives up liquor prices and lawmakers rarely change them.
Current rates — 7 cents per glass for wine and spirits and 4 cents per glass for beer — are at historic lows, according to the newspaper.
The last time New Mexico advocates tried to raise liquor taxes, they campaigned in 2017 for a blanket one-quarter drink increase and the bill fell through.
Animal rights activists not guilty of stealing piglets
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah jury has found two animal rights activists not guilty of burglary and theft after they allegedly kidnapped two sick piglets from a factory pig farm.
Activists Wayne Hsiung and Paul Picklesimer of the Californian group Direct Action Everywhere had argued during their trial that nothing of value had been stolen because the 3-week-old piglets were in poor condition and at risk of dying. The verdict of not guilty was returned on October 8 after a week-long trial.
The group took 360-degree virtual reality video of the March 2017 incident at Smithfield Food’s Circle Four Farms near Milford and promoted it online, in a tactic known as ” open rescue” which aims to shed light on abusive farming practices.
Investigators used the video to identify the defendants and three other activists who were charged and entered into plea deals rather than going to trial. Hsiung and Picklesimer faced up to five and a half years in prison if convicted, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
In 2017, a federal court struck down a Utah law banning secret filming at farms and ranching sites, saying the restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
Wild horse rights activists say 14 horses have been killed
SPRINGERVILLE – Wild horse rights advocates are calling on authorities to prosecute anyone responsible for the reported killing of more than a dozen wild horses in northeastern Arizona.
U.S. Forest Service officials said Oct. 9 they were investigating the deaths of the horses, but gave no details.
Phoenix television station KTVK reported witnesses told them that 14 horses were found in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest with fatal gunshot wounds to the abdomen, face and between the eyes.
Simone Netherlands of Salt River Wild Horse Management in Arizona said the horses “are not federally protected, not protected by state law, so it’s sickening that someone could just come here and kill”.
The dead horses were found near Forest Road 25 in the Alpine and Springerville Ranger Districts, according to the Forest Service, which said in a statement that they are “coordinating with appropriate authorities to support the investigation.” .
Meanwhile, a $20,000 reward continues to be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man who killed five wild horses in eastern Nevada late last year.
The Bureau of Land Management announced last week that the National Mustang Association has pledged to double the previous $10,000 award in the case.
It is unclear whether the Nevada and Arizona cases are linked.
The BLM investigates and prosecutes the killings under the Wild Horses and Burro Act of 1971.