Bill description: SB 1151 would cap the amount of wildlife depredation payments to any single person at 10 percent of the total annual appropriation.

Rating: +1

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game offers landowners payments to cover damages caused by big game wildlife, such as ungulates, bears, and other grazing wildlife. The state issues these payments for depredation by wildlife to landowners who do not receive reimbursement from other parties for the damages caused.

This past year, Idaho farmers submitted 44 depredation claims. The average for all but one of these claims was $13,280. The outlying claim was submitted for $1,028,520 of damages to organic potatoes and kamut (a strain of wheat). This single claim exceeded all the others put together, and was more than the claims paid in 2018. As a result of this exceedingly large claim, the total claims exceeded the appropriations, and the department may have to prorate all of the claims so as not to exceed the budget. (The Legislature may pass a supplemental appropriation to increase the budget and account for this large claim.)

SB 1151 would cap the payments for any single individual to 10 percent of the total appropriation. The statutory base appropriation for this fund is $1.1 million. This would ensure that no single farmer is taking the bulk of all of the depredation payments, and thereby increasing the costs to Idaho taxpayers of increasing the appropriation to cover the damages caused by wildlife.