Wolf controversy spurs a House bill that makes introducing non-native species a felony

Wolf controversy spurs a House bill that makes introducing non-native species a felony. By Day Popkey. Idahostatesman.com

The Idaho House voted 46-24 on Tuesday for House Bill 138, which applies to species threatening the safety of people, livestock, pets or property [and now wildlife too!]. The measure also allows civil lawsuits should such an animal injure or kill a person.

Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, acknowledged the bill is flawed but said it is a worthwhile effort to protest the damage wolves have done to wildlife and livestock.
“The wolf is a decimating, destroying machine,” she said.

Here is the text of the engrossed bill. I thought it had become more moderate as it went through the House, but instead it became very strange. I don’t think I need to explain why, just read it. House Bill 138 (as amended) Ralph Maughan

19 Responses to “Wolf controversy spurs a House bill that makes introducing non-native species a felony”

  1. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Here is the text of the bill.

    It is silly and unconstitutional since it violates the federal supremacy clause of the Constitution and seems to make individual persons subject to civil legal action for something they do the legal and routine course of their jobs.

    At any rate, the wolf (which people like Barrett are so pissed off about) was introduced 14 years ago by the federal government.

  2. Brian Ertz Says:

    People who are quick to dismiss the Ron Gillett extremists should take note of this bill’s passage. These ‘misfit extremists’ hold a majority of the seats in the Idaho House, in all likelihood the state senate, & the governor’s seat

    This is the political reality in the state (& other western states).

  3. Ralph Maughan Says:


    That’s why I call people like myself who grew up mostly in suburban northern Utah “second class” citizens in the West. In Utah the “cowboy caucus” dominates in outdoor issues even though Utah is one of the most urban states in the United States in percentage of people living in more populated areas.

  4. Salle Says:

    Just goes to show ya, they need to have a sanity check before taking the oath of office…

  5. Mark Says:

    Ralph and Brian, I don’t know how you guys continue to fight the good fight. It’s so demoralizing to me to hear these anti-wolf people talk with blind hatred and continue to still make gains for their beliefs, it makes me want to throw my hands up and quit. Even in Missoula, this topic is getting out of control. Some of the students I teach are already being indoctrinated at home with Gillette’s “anti-wolf” sentiment and bringing this mindset to class to try and start arguments. This makes it harder and harder for me to want to stay out west. Please give me some hope that maybe reason and science and factual information will triumph over the beliefs these baffoons are managing to successfully use to persuade others like them!

  6. Rycarp Says:

    The most ironic aspect of the bill is that WOLVES ARE NATIVE SPECIES!

  7. ProWolf in WY Says:

    That is pretty funny that they are passing this with a native species. I also think this quote is entertaining: “The wolf is a decimating, destroying machine.” This is the second person I have personally heard of from Challis with the Little Red Riding Hood fear. Now, I’m sure not everyone has that from Challis, but knowing that the population is so small, it makes me wonder.

    Off topic, but this goes to Mark. I lived close to Missoula for a year and I actually found more of the crackpot mentality there than what I saw in Bozeman. Has Missoula had a major change in attitude? This was almost three years ago.

  8. ProWolf in WY Says:

    Shouldn’t this bill also apply to introducing game birds like pheasants, chukars, and huns (and possibly turkeys if they are not native to Idaho)?

  9. Brian Ertz Says:

    And livestock

  10. Brian Ertz Says:


    I think with the Idaho legislature (& perhaps other Livestock Culture state & local governments elsewhere), the key is to agitate them into digging their own grave. Some people don’t like that, but I don’t think the status quo is a reasonable alternative. It’s kind of sad, the way Idaho’s “opposition party” fears its own tail, and even the mainstream media such as the Statesman (with perhaps the exception of a couple local sources) cheerlead the state establishment [exhibit A], the catalyst for change is a level of controversy that reaches federal decision-makers and the attention of a wider media. From what I know, Ralph’s doing a good job with that latter part for sure.

    I still think that the experience and exposure to wildlife and landscapes that foster appreciation, humility and hopefully a level of inspiration – combined with a solid education that grants the fact, reason and critical thought to make kids willing, able, and passionate enough to choose to fight for these things is hopeful.

    My kids are really excited about the Phantoms – they light up when Luna and I speak of them – they know not to approach wildlife both for their own sake – and the sake of the wildlife, but that fear isn’t pounded into them in such a way that kills the joy and appreciation of it, obviously we keep them pretty informed and saturated in what we value. Encouraging that and nourishing it with exposure – letting the landscape make the lion’s share of the argument – is my plan. I’ve got a brother and a cousin who buy into the fear of wolves pretty deep – there’s not a lot I’m able to say to change their minds – they’re not going to let go of that fear – I think that it makes them feel somehow vindicated or self-righteous in a way that simply appreciated wolves doesn’t – and I’m not willing to deny the fact that I appreciate and value wild wolves on the landscape on a level that’s ‘extra-rational’ (people call it “emotional”, which is probably accurate – but the word is used to diminish the value of the experience in a way that I don’t like).

    I can relate to the anxiety of living in the West – I moved to the Wood River Valley last year thinking that being here I’d have to commute to the hate – boy oh boy did these boys wet that blanket !

  11. JB Says:

    “In the event of injury or death to a person caused by a nonnative animal species or subspecies introduced into the state of Idaho by a governmental agency, there shall exist a civil cause of action for negligence for the injury or death against any individual instrumental in the introduction or protection of the nonnative animal species or subspecies.”

    This bill is a hoot! First, as Ralph mentions, it is unconstitutional; second, at no place in the text do they define “non-native” or “introduced”. Non-native to Idaho? The United States? North America? Third, as others have pointed out (above) wolves ARE native to Idaho, whereas many other animals “introduced” to Idaho by a government agency are not.

    There will be hell to pay at IDF&G if someone is ever killed by a turkey or pheasant! 🙂

  12. jimbob Says:

    Ha Ha Ha Ha hee hee hoo hoo! Idaho I am laughing at your legislature. Do they also hold their sessions in a cave? Around a fire? Do they write their legislation on stone tablets?
    Brian Ertz made a great point. No more ranching!!!!!!! YESSSS! Cows and sheep are introduced non-native species. PLEASE PASS THIS BILL! Boy, do they even give ANY thought to what they do?

  13. Barb Rupers Says:

    Here is the language in the bill “As used in this section and in section 6809, Idaho Code, a “dangerous or vicious animal” is a nondomesticated animal which is known to be a threat to the safety or welfare of persons, livestock, pets or property or which is a member of a species or subspecies which is known to be a threat to the safety and welfare of persons, livestock, pets or property.”

    It has to be “undomesticated” to be included in this bill; so much for the cattle on roads that kill people, mutilate vehicles, and destroy ecosystems.

  14. Larry Thorngren Says:

    In 1916 the U.S. Forest Service estimated less than 600 elk were left in Idaho. Over the next 35 years or so, elk were shipped in railroad livestock cars to many locations in Idaho from Yellowstone National Park. Most of the elk in Idaho are decendents of those imported elk. Does that make our introduced Yellowstone elk a non-native animal? In all my years as a hunter, fisherman, hiker and photographer, my two closest calls involved elk. I was treed by a 7×7 bull and the famous number 6 bull elk in Yellowstone gave me a kiss a few years ago when he stuck his head in my truck window. Only my cab-over camper top prevented me from serious injury. This same bull gored at least 56 automobiles this year in Yellowstone before dying in an unfortunate accident in Gardiner this winter. Over the years this bull became famous for putting holes in vehicles and charging tourists in Yellowstone. In some years he had his antlers cut off to prevent injury to park visiters and local school children. Maybe we should start removing these same vicious imported Montana Monster Elk from Idaho. They are obviously much larger and more dangerous than the timid little native Idaho Elk that co-existed with those little timid wolves that the anti-wolf crowd says lived in Idaho originally.

  15. JEFF E Says:

    the most dangerous wild animal to humans in North America

  16. Brian Ertz Says:


    If it wasn’t so tragic – being a citizen of Idaho – I’d probably be laughing right alongside you.


    What about the ranchers themselves?

  17. Bonnie Says:

    Does this mean that I can’t import a canary because it might spread bird flu?

  18. Barb Rupers Says:

    The ranchers are certainly a threat to the native bighorns. It is appalling that four sheep ranchers have thousands of acres of grazing permits in the Payette NF to the detriment of all native fauna and flora. This is repeated all over the west on NF, BLM, and state lands with both sheep and cattle.

  19. mikarooni Says:

    Idaho shows the way again. I wouldn’t dream of going that way. the trouble is that, as long as conservationists in idaho are content to remain so congenial to “collaborators” in their midst, a strong and unblunted conservation movement, for that matter a strong and unblunted political opposition of any kind, is not going to develop in Idaho. Too much talk and not enough walk over there.

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