Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hunting vs. public safety

    The state of Idaho needs to bring its hunting and trapping laws into the 21st century.
    Blaine County commissioners last week did what they could to address the shooting of two elk in an area adjacent to the Hulen Meadows subdivision last fall. They reconciled two conflicting ordinances and prohibited shooting within 1,000 feet of a dwelling. However, state law still trumps that ordinance by prohibiting it from being applied to legal hunting.
    In north Idaho, two family dogs were reported killed in traps in the past two months. In Kellogg, one dog’s owner told a local newspaper that the trap was located about 20 feet off a trail where her family was hiking.
    The dog deaths raise questions about Idaho’s trapping laws and rules. Trappers are not required to post signs on public lands where traps are located. Traps may be as close as 5 feet from the center of a trail, and the public has no way of finding out where traps are placed.
    Trappers fear that anti-hunting activists might interfere with their activities if trapping areas were posted. Be that as it may, there’s nothing worse for any kind of hunting activity than reports that it has endangered humans or killed their pets.
    The Idaho Legislature and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, which sets hunting  regulations, need to get involved in the issue of hunting vs. public safety before any more time elapses.
    It is simply unacceptable to allow high-powered hunting rifles to be discharged in a legal hunt next to a subdivision. It is unacceptable to keep hikers in the dark about the locations of traps that may endanger them, their children or dogs.
    State laws governing hunting simply must be changed to protect public safety.

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