Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letís coexist with wolves

    On April 17, the Sawtooth Society and Lava Lake Institute co-hosted an outstanding film by former Mountain Express writer Jason Kauffman, “A Season of Predators: Making Room for People and Carnivores in the Blackfoot and Wood River Valleys.” The film highlighted the Wood River Wolf Project initiated by the Blaine County Commission, Lava Lake Land and Livestock, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Wildlife Research Center, the U.S. Forest Service and others in our area. This effort, started in 2007, has proven how a suite of proactive non-lethal control measures can save ranchers’ money and deter wolves from preying on livestock.  
    Contrast this collaborative success with the state’s aggressive lethal control measures: trapping, snaring, expanded Fish and Game aerial operations and hunting seasons, and a professional hunter hired to kill packs in the Frank Church Wilderness, the largest wilderness in the lower 48 states. Now, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature have widened their war on wolves with the creation of the Wolf Control Board.  Killing 1,200 wolves in Idaho (Fish and Game reports) over the past three years is not enough.
    These actions don’t go unnoticed in the national press. The threat to boycott the state of Idaho by national environmental and humane groups is real and could have a negative impact on Blaine County’s well-respected tourist economy.   
    The citizens of Blaine County value wildlife; witness the fact that Blaine County adopted its first wildlife protection ordinance in 1977 and made these protections stronger in 2007 with new subdivision rules. And in 2008, voters in Blaine County passed the Land, Water and Wildlife Levy, with a major goal of preserving wildlife habitat. The Blaine County Commission, led by Commissioner Larry Schoen, continues this ethic by participating in the Wood River Wolf Project and supporting non-lethal wolf management.
    This is a call to action. We must support the Wood River Wolf Project and all efforts to employ non-lethal deterrence methods to protect both livestock and wildlife. Each one of us needs to tell Gov. Otter, the Wolf Control Board and the members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission that their lethal control measures are a threat to our economy. People come here to recreate, photograph and to see wildlife. We can co-exist with wolves because we value all wildlife.
Sarah Michael
Former county commissioner
Blaine County


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