The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Does the budget examine existing spending to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate the addition of new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.
The control of wolf populations is not a role the state government must take on. There are multitudes of hunters in the state who can take on this responsibility, provided the department issues permits for them to do so. Additionally, there are private organizations who will take on the responsibility of controlling wolf populations in the state. One such group has reimbursed hunters for eliminating more than 400 wolves, at one-twelfth the cost it takes the board to kill a wolf.
While this organization largely focuses on protecting populations of elk in the state, livestock owners could take on the responsibility of protecting their animals from depredation. The Department of Fish and Game does not require livestock owners to obtain a permit before killing any wolf that is attacking their herd. The owner must simply report the incident to the department within three days.
There are myriad ways private individuals and organizations can take on the responsibilities the board currently carries out.
The board has received an annual appropriation from the Legislature of $400,000 for Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2019. For Fiscal Year 2020, the appropriation is $200,000. The board also receives up to $220,000 a year in funding from fees paid by sportsmen and the owners of livestock. During the period of FY15 through FY18, the cost for each wolf killed by the board came to about $7,000. In total, the board has spent $1.8 million and killed 262 wolves over four years. Private hunters have killed about 270 wolves per year in activities that are not connected to the board.