The Idaho Trappers Association wants wolf trapping in Blaine County and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission is hearing the proposal in March. Regrettably, the Fish and Game Commission ignored Blaine County’s request to it in January to keep wolf trapping out, as well as the written comments from the city of Ketchum, outdoor retailers, 50 local citizens and others. The commission didn’t believe that this was adequate public input.
Now we need to add more voices. If you read state Sen. Michelle Stennett’s story about the experience of her dog in a wolf trap in January, then the threat of wolf traps in the Wood River Valley becomes vivid. In her statement to us, she stated that “it was the most helpless, agonizing 80 minutes of my life with my dog in my lap as he was violently shaking, going into shock.” She also pointed out that “recreationists have a right to equal protection and use on public lands. What if your child had stepped in that trap? What if a child saw a parent get caught in that trap? A skier? Someone fishing? A horse with rider?”
We wonder, as Sen. Stennett did, why there were no signs warning her that wolf traps were in the area and why the trap was not placed farther from the trail. In May 2020, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to deny a petition that asked for signs and to require that wolf traps be placed 25 feet from a trail or road. The commission stated in its denial that a voluntary approach to warning signs and the department’s outreach program to tell the public on how to avoid wildlife traps while walking dogs, and how to release dogs if they are captured in a trap, would be sufficient. This voluntary approach obviously did not help protect Sen. Stennett or her dog.
Wolf trapping in our county is not compatible with our values of coexistence with wildlife and our intense outdoor recreation uses on public lands. Blaine County is experiencing the largest increase in summer and winter outdoor recreation ever. Our public lands are crowded year-round with people and dogs enjoying hiking, walking, mountain biking, backpacking, backcountry skiing and Nordic skiing. Thousands of local dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours are spent each year on improving trails for everyone. We practice coexistence with wolves through the Wood River Wolf Project and other game through our Wood River Wildlife Communities Coalition. Trapping is not wanted, not needed, not safe (99.99% of the public is not trained to release one) or adequately monitored.
I hope people will join us in trying to keep wolf trapping out of Blaine County Units 48 and 49. Please contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game by Feb. 25, with your comments: idfg.idaho.gov/rules/big-game/proposal/magic-valley-region/gray-wolf/magic-valley-region-gray-wolf-general-hunt-0.
Dick Fosbury, Angenie McCleary and Jacob Greenberg are Blaine County commissioners.