Imagine a 10-year-old girl in tears when she wasn’t allowed to speak against wolf trapping after sitting for two hours in an Idaho Fish and Game-hosted meeting in Hailey on Feb. 19. Imagine how she felt when she was told that she could go to Boise to speak to the Fish and Game Commission on March 12. But how could she when it was on a school night? The room was packed with other concerned Blaine County citizens, but no one was allowed to speak. Apparently, this type of meeting by Fish and Game doesn’t allow public comment.
After years of respecting local values of coexistence with wolves, why is the Idaho Fish and Game Commission trampling on those values? Something has radically changed? For the first time, the commission wants to open wolf trapping on private lands in Blaine County. How does this reflect on our new Gov. Brad Little, who seems a moderate voice on the environment?
Whatever the Fish and Game rationale, wolf trapping in Blaine County ignores 12 years of collaboration with the Wood River Wolf Project, a program that deters wolf depredation of livestock through nonlethal means. Blaine County and the city of Ketchum have supported this program because coexistence with wolves expresses core citizen values of wildlife protection. The Wood River Women’s Foundation, a 380-member powerhouse, gave significant grants in 2017 and 2018 to support this important effort. Our community has spoken often and clearly.
Idaho Fish and Game has clearly tripped on wolf trapping on private lands in Blaine County. We can easily debunk the commission’s argument that trapping regulations should be uniform statewide. Why would these be uniform when most other types of hunting are regulated on an area-by-area basis?
With 1.6 million acres of land in Blaine County, there is often no distinction between public and private lands in remote canyons and valleys. Trapping anywhere puts the public at risk and ignores our hard work to coexist with wolves and all wildlife.
I urge you to contact Gov. Brad Little and the Fish and Game Commission against this proposal.
Sarah Michael, Blaine County
Sarah Michael was a Blaine County commissioner from 2001-2008.