Education, organization and activism are powerful. Just ask the groups that joined together to oppose wolf trapping in Blaine County and succeeded last week in convincing the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to ban it here.

Two state trapping organizations had urged the commission to allow trapping in the county along with extending the hunting season from 11 months to year-round. The commission initially supported continuing a trapping ban, but suddenly and unexpectedly changed course.

The tide of local opposition to this poor policy then surged. When the commission met last week, it had received around 1,300 comments on the proposal.

It was faced with opposition from the Blaine County commissioners, the Blaine County Recreation District, the Ketchum and Hailey city councils, District 26 Sen. Michelle Stennett, Rep. Muffy Davis, local business interests, the Wood River Wolf Project and Living With Wolves.

The Wolf Project had worked with ranchers since 2008 to put nonlethal means in place to control predation on domestic livestock here.

The Living With Wolves organization had engaged in a highly effective local campaign to educate people in Blaine County and beyond about the lives of wolves and their role in the wild.

The opposition united in decrying wolf trapping as inhumane and dangerous to other animals and humans in mountain areas where hiking and biking are popular. That includes nearly every square mile of Blaine County.

The opposition united behind preventing the threat that wolf trapping poses to the Sun Valley area’s tourism economy. Locals and visitors love to hike the stunningly beautiful mountains, many with their kids and trusty canines. It would take injury to just one child or the death of one pet to mar the area’s appeal.

Stennett’s awful recent experience extricating her golden retriever from the jaws of a trap placed near a country road where they were walking galvanized the public’s attention on what could go wrong. The incident took place in an adjacent county, but illustrated what could happen here.

Opponents of trapping won the day, but given the superstition and misinformation that surrounds predators in other areas of Idaho, it’s an issue that may return.

Keeping wolf trapping out of Blaine County will not be successful without well-funded, ongoing efforts that use nonlethal means to discourage wolf packs from going after domestic animals, which are easy prey. That takes money.

Lethal control efforts receive far better funding from state and federal agencies than nonlethal means. That needs to change.

For now, the people whose activism convinced IDFG to keep wolf trapping out of the county should take a victory lap and celebrate a win for facts and reason.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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