You might say, “how’s that? I know it is awful language and a fraud, but how is it dangerous to wildlife watching and hunting in general?
It is dangerous because it arguably transfers ownership of the state’s wildlife to outfitters. Let me write that again, it implicitly transfers ownership of Idaho wildlife from the state of Idaho to private outfitters.
The state of Idaho owns all wildlife in Idaho, and it is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. This same is true in other states.
The mission statement of the Department reads: “All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. [emphasis mine] It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”
Recall that the wolf watching area section of the Idaho wolf population management plan reads:
1. Primarily public land, or private land where landowners agree to low or no wolf harvest.
2. No, or heavily controlled livestock grazing or agreements with landowners and producers that allow viewing and acknowledge a high risk of wolf predation.
3. Any livestock conflicts will be addressed through an incremental approach of proactive nonlethal management, lethal removal and compensation for livestock losses.
4. Provisions exist to protect domestic dogs from wolf attacks.
5. Provisions exist for harvest or lethal removal of wolves if conflicts with ungulates or livestock become excessive.
6. Outfitters in the area agree to the strategy and are eligible for financial compensation, through non-government organizations, to offset differential losses between hunting opportunity and wolf viewing revenue. [emphasis mine]
7. Viewing areas will not be considered permanent and may be moved around the state as needed to address biological and social issues.
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If wildlife belongs to Idaho, why do outfitters have to agree to wildlife watching, and why must they be compensated by people to watch wolves or any other kind of wildlife? Receiving compensation is the prerogative of owners of something.
As we know there are stealthy wildlife privatizers out there. Some have suggested SFW (the misnamed Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife interest group) is leading the way for those who seek wildlife for the rich, Dick Cheney-type “hunters.”
Even today, citizen hunters know they are unwelcome and being pushed around in Idaho, Wyoming and other states by outfitters. Some folks might want to recount some hunting tales.
With a friendly-to-SFW-Idaho-legislature and a complaisant F & G Commission, provision no. 6 above could easily be rewritten by some sneaky legislator to say “outfitters in the area must agree to the presence of other hunters in their area, and hunters must pay the outfitters to offset the differential losses between outfitter client hunting opportunities and private hunting.”
While their wolf watching area plan as written is an awful idea under any condition, if compensation is to by paid to watch wolves or to watch any wildlife, it absolutely must go to the state of Idaho, not a private individual.