If SB1175 is signed into law collaborative group may collapse
Today there was meeting of the Idaho Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Group which ended early due to concerns of various groups about how Senate Bill 1175 will affect what the group does.
At the present time SB1175 is awaiting Governor Otter’s signature or veto and no-one is sure where he stands. The Idaho Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Group was formed at the behest of the Governor to address how to protect both bighorn sheep and domestic sheep but many in the group fear that SB1175 subverts this process and defines the policy of the State of Idaho without the input of all parties.
At the beginning of the meeting Senator Jeff Siddoway, a Republican sheep rancher from Terreton, Idaho and sponsor of SB 1175, was in attendance and was asked to describe what the bill does and to answer other questions. He seemed, to my eyes, uncertain about many of the aspects of the bill and could not answer some pointed questions about it such as what is meant by “appropriate separation” between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep and what exactly is meant by this passage:
It is the policy of the state of Idaho that existing sheep or livestock operations in the area of any bighorn sheep transplant or relocation are recognized and that the potential risk, if any, of disease transmission and loss of bighorn sheep when the same invade domestic livestock or sheep operations is accepted
Specifically, what is meant by transplanted or relocated sheep? Does this refer to sheep that will be transplanted or relocated or does it refer to sheep that have been transplanted or relocated. Also, what does recognizing existing sheep or livestock operations in affected areas mean?
This kind of vague language leaves many interpretations open.
There were several constituencies in attendance and there were some predominant feelings about the effect of SB1175 from each of the groups. Sportsmen/wild sheep advocates overwhelmingly felt that the impetus behind SB1175 was to make a side-run around the collaborative process and dictate state policy without the input of the group or the public. Many of these groups stated that they would leave the group if SB1175 passed. The Idaho Conservation League’s John Robison said that they would leave the group as well if the legislation passed. The Nez Perce Tribe informed the moderator that they would not be in attendance with the legislation in play. The Shoshone/Bannock Tribe representative said that he would recommend to the tribe’s business council that they withdraw from the group.
The livestock industry people seemed to think that the legislation was good and did not interfere with the purpose of the group and most went on to say that they supported the continuation of the advisory group.
After the concerns of many members on the group were aired it was decided that the meeting should adjourn early without moving on to development of the charter which would determine the group composition and structure. There is another meeting scheduled for May 26th at a location yet to be determined.
UPDATE: Here is Rocky Barker’s Take:
Will Idaho’s sheep bill mean the end of collaboration?
Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman