Friday, September 19, 2014

Balancing the biological books

    Wolves in Idaho are a more complex issue than a simple city resolution can address. City resolutions sent to the Idaho Legislature have exactly the same clout as those sent to Congress—exactly none.
    Nonetheless, seeing Ketchum weigh in on the positive side of the wolf ledger, which groans with the weight of the political, practical and emotional negatives heaped upon it, was a welcome development in the ongoing debate over wolves in Idaho.
    The resolution solves nothing. The Ketchum City Council heard mostly from wolf advocates and little or nothing from hunters, ranchers and wildlife biologists before it gave the resolution its blessing.
    If the city really wants to make Blaine County a demonstration area for less lethal control of wolves, it needs to put forward a realistic plan of action with all stakeholders on board along with funding to pay for it. For that, it should first seek voter approval.
    Idaho wolf advocates have been countered at nearly every turn by legislative inaction that has left hunters, fishermen and trappers as nearly the sole support of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which is responsible for managing all of the state’s wildlife. They’ve been blocked by the rampant paranoia of hunters in particular who fear that new funding sources for wildlife management might give non-hunters—the worst of whom in their eyes are members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—influence over their sport.
    If elected state government officials had their way, they would again drive wolves to extinction in Idaho. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is the poster boy for that position, which is consistent with his anti-federal government stance overall.
    Balancing the biological books on wolves will require more than a little lip service and ink. It remains to be seen if Ketchum is serious or if its resolution is merely a forgettable ink spot.

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