County considers tighter control of wild animals
"When [wild] animals pose a danger to the public, we want to give
law enforcement the ability to take action as they would against a pit bull."
Tim Graves, Blaine County deputy prosecuting attorney.
By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer
Halfway through April, northern Blaine County was still snowbound. As
coyotes hunted for ground squirrels across vast white fields crisscrossed with snowmobile
tracks, the human and animal worlds crossed paths.
Development into the fringes of Idahos wilderness and increased
human encounters with wild animals mean animal control in Blaine County is becoming more
than just a dog-and-cat issue.
Concerns have arisen especially in regard to encounters with mountain
To address those issues, the Blaine County Commissioners are considering
making a change to the countys animal control ordinance to allow local officers to
pursue and capture or kill dangerous wild animals on private property.
Under the current ordinance, officers are authorized to enter private
property only in the case of escaped domestic animals or wild animals that have actually
"When [wild] animals pose a danger to the public, we want to give law
enforcement the ability to take action as they would against a pit bull," Blaine
County deputy prosecuting attorney Tim Graves said during a hearing held on Monday of last
week. However, Graves added that officers should be restrained from killing wild animals
until attempts to remove them from dangerous situations have been made.
Commissioner Mary Ann Mix cautioned that the county should be careful in
its dealing with the gray wolf, which is protected under the federal endangered species
"Im concerned that if we pass this ordinance people will think
they can go in and destroy endangered species," Mix said. "The county could be
subject to litigation. Were not advocating at all shooting threatened or endangered
Mix said a "neighboring county" has proposed an ordinance that
would allow the destruction of the gray wolf "no matter what."
"We dont want to go there," Mix said.
Bob Ruesink, superintendent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
Snake River Basin office, said in an interview that the agencys regulations allow
killing a wolf only in defense of human life or when it is in the act of attacking
The county will hold a meeting in the next couple of weeks to further
discuss the animal control ordinance. Adoption of amendments to it will then be
reconsidered in a public hearing to be scheduled sometime in May.