Incident Leaving Three Injured, Rancher Dead, and Wife in the Hospital After a Heart Attack, Highlights Need for Change in Idaho’s Open Range Laws.

Adams County doesn’t have any so-called “herd districts” or areas where livestock are not allowed to simply roam free and Idaho’s open range laws don’t require livestock owners to keep their livestock off of highways.

As described in several news articles published on November 2nd, a Subaru carrying two people struck a black bull on Highway 95 north of Council, Idaho after dark on the evening of November 1st. As rescuers were trying to extract the passengers of the Subaru, the injured bull charged them and passing motorists. Dispatchers reportedly called Jack Yantis, who they though might be the owner of the bull and who is described by locals as a prominent rancher, to inform him about the incident. Just as the Adams County deputies were getting ready to shoot the bull, Yantis showed up with a rifle and there was an altercation that resulted in his death after the deputies shot him. The incident is still under investigation by the Idaho State Police but it has been reported that both deputies and Yantis fired their weapons and that one of the deputies was injured. The ISP did not disclose what caused the deputy’s injury. The victims in the Subaru were airlifted to a hospital and Yantis’s wife suffered a heart attack after learning of his death and was taken to a hospital where she is in critical condition. The bull was shot and killed at the scene.

Title 25, Chapter 21, Section 25-2118 states:

“No person owning, or controlling the possession of, any domestic animal running on open range, shall have the duty to keep such animal off any highway on such range, and shall not be liable for damage to any vehicle or for injury to any person riding therein, caused by a collision between the vehicle and the animal. “Open range” means all uninclosed lands outside of cities, villages and herd districts, upon which cattle by custom, license, lease, or permit, are grazed or permitted to roam.”

These special laws, written solely to protect a special class of people (ranchers) are responsible for the incident in Adams County on November 1st. It is likely that this incident would not have occurred if it was the responsibility of the ranchers to keep livestock off of public highways.

Livestock on the highway in open range. © Ken Cole
Livestock on the highway in open range. © Ken Cole

These laws are antiquated and seem deeply unfair and unsafe. They place the responsibility onto the victims of the accident rather than onto the owner of the livestock on public roadways. These laws also set up situations where ranchers can intentionally place people at risk with no consequence to the rancher. There is a story from the 1950’s of a rancher near New Meadows, Idaho who openly supported open range laws and routinely made people who hit his livestock on the roads pay for said livestock. Later, he famously hit a horse and was injured. I’ve seen water tubs, which attract cattle, placed near highways. Of the highways that I routinely travel, Highway 51, south of Bruneau is particularly notable for livestock on the highway, both on the Duck Valley Reservation and on BLM lands.

Idaho’s open range laws also let livestock owners violate private property rights and, when people complain, I’ve heard ranchers just tell them that it’s not their responsibility because they’re in a “fence out” state. In other words, their livestock can go anywhere, cause damage, and it’s your responsibility to build and maintain fences to keep them off of your property. Private property rights in Idaho apparently only apply to ranchers.

I receive occasional complaints from people around the state. One recent complaint involved the owner of several horses who could no longer afford to feed them on his private property so he just released them to feed on his surrounding neighbor’s property. Since it was open range, there was little recourse. The horses could go just about anywhere that wasn’t adequately fenced.

Most people don’t understand why these laws exist and find them deeply unfair. Many western states have these laws and there have been many people who have been injured or killed because livestock are allowed to graze freely on state highways in the west. Many times the victims are required to pay the ranchers for the livestock and for the damage to their vehicles.

There are several questions that need to be answered here. Did Yantis die because he felt emboldened by Idaho’s open range laws to confront the deputies who were about to kill his prized bull for the protection of themselves and bystanders? Do idaho’s open range laws inflate the sense of entitlement felt by an elite class of people and put lives at risk unfairly? Is it unfair to require landowners to fence livestock off of their property rather than require livestock owners to keep livestock fenced off of other’s property?

For me, I think it is time for these laws to be drastically changed and for the responsibility to be placed on the owners of the livestock where it belongs. It is not the job of the state to ensure the profitability of ranchers, it is the job of the state to ensure that its citizens are safe.

Here is a link to Title 25 statues. Chapters 21-24 contain Idaho’s “open range” laws.

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Here is some background from The Wildlife News back in 2013. “Open range laws, legal and illegal abuse by livestock interests.



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  1. HLB Avatar

    “They place the responsibility onto the victims of the accident rather than onto the owner of the livestock on public roadways”.

    Before highways there was open range. Then the government made highways for non-local people to transit. It seems at that point the government affected a change that created a problem; in other words, they did not do a good job of transforming the open range to open transit. When government takes property or changes a situation to benefit one group of people over another group of people they need to compensate those disaffected at that time or not make the changes.

    In this case the government could have fenced the highway at a cost to the taxpayers since the cattlemen were there first.

    1. Ian Courts Avatar
      Ian Courts

      Wow! I cannot believe I just read those comments! Self entitled much????

      1. rork Avatar

        I should be entitled to not be bothered by other people’s cows, even though that was not thought “fair” historically in this place. However, with our forms of government, that can change if the inconvenienced people outvote the others. Perhaps that time has come, it’s up to them. The ranchers might rightly consider changing the rules of the game now unfair, perhaps HLB’s point, which holds some water.

        General: I worry we can be somewhat motivated by “if it’s bad for ranchers, I like it”. “Seems unfair” is pretty thin. (Another example of possible motivated reasoning: some anti-hunters have scoffed at higher penalties for poachers, almost entirely because poachers are also the enemies of hunters, thus deciding to enable outlaws. If hunters hate them, it must be good cause, you see, so “+1”.)

    2. Chris Harbin Avatar
      Chris Harbin

      There were other people there before the cattlemen and that certainly did not protect them from changing their lifestyle and economy.

    3. Cowpatty123 Avatar

      Your attitude is why so many of us are working so hard to see an end to the Federal grazing program….. and the more we get to know you the more determined we become 🙂

    4. The WiZaRd Avatar
      The WiZaRd

      Wrong, Moonshine Breath!!

      Indigenous tribes and wildlife were here
      first long before the Inquisition came to
      this continent from Europe and screwed
      things up by destroying Nature’s majestic
      wonders and landscape with their livestock
      and massacring and enslaving millions of
      indigenous tribes because they refuse to
      conform to the barbaric ways and
      ideological dogma of the “White Man”!!

      “Idahell” (Idaho) needs to stop dwelling in the
      vulgar 19th Century and quit destroying
      Nature’s majestic wonders or else the region will end up looking like the Sahara Desert in the next 50-100 years from now!!

      I’ve been through the Boise Nat’l Forest
      and I tell ya’ the only thing I found are
      shrubs and weeds, and they call it a forest??
      It’s not a forest!!
      It’s a bloody DESERT!!

      And the state is dead last when it comes
      to the quality of education, because that
      stupid Fascist pig Gov. “Butcher” Otter
      is wasting tax $$$ just to murder wolves
      and other wildlife to appease a handful of
      19th Century redneck neanderthals who don’t
      give a rat’s a$$ about the natural wonders our Creator made for all of us to take care of and preserve for future generations!!
      I don’t know where they got their education
      from..(except maybe from their broken-down outhouse and watching those corny
      reruns of Hee Haw).

      One thing is for certain…
      I’m never buying anything that comes
      from Idaho (aka “Idahell”) again for as long I’m still here on this Earth…
      Nor shall any longer, I recognize Idaho
      as the 43rd state in the U.S. because of
      the infidel state government’s act of high treason against the American people,
      the nation and our Creator!!

      Personally, as a vegetarian,
      I refuse to conform to the
      ruthless, outdated “traditions”
      of the Old West.

      The cattle industry can take
      their beef and shove it up their
      unclean a$$!!

      I’ll stick to kale, tofu, broccoli,
      beans, nuts, mushrooms, and spinach,
      thank you very much, since is has more
      protein than animal meat!!

      And if any dumb redneck is expecting
      me to go back to eating meat again,
      the answer to that is NEVER!!

    5. Shari Avatar

      I agree with if the government is constructing hwys for non ranchers then the fence to keep the cows off the hwys should be on the government not the rancher. Seems to be a war on the west in the way they earn a living. Rural natural resource communities seem to take the brunt of those that live in urban areas opinion of what should and should not be. Mining, Forestry, Farming, but yet urban folks consume beef, pork, chicken from the store, the computers and electronics come from mining rare earth, and the houses many live in come from the forest.

  2. Bob M Avatar
    Bob M

    Before highways, ranchers ‘drove’ their cattle to market. But they opted for the convenience of rails and road. In the cases where the rancher owned the land, they often negotiated for the government to purchase right of way from them. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in the 19th century any more.

    1. The WiZaRd Avatar
      The WiZaRd

      Welcome to the year 2015,
      the 21st Century, the Third Millennium..

      We’ve been to the moon and back
      in the 1960’s and 70’s.
      Next stop, the planet Mars
      (circa 2025-2035 A.D.)

      The 1800’s is ancient history now.
      What might have been the fad back then
      is no longer in fashion in the modern era.

      Times are changing…
      Our world is changing…

      So, gather ’round people, wherever you roam..
      Admit that the waters around you have grown..
      And accept that soon, you’ll be drenched to the bone..
      If your time to to you is worth savin’…
      So, you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the Times, They Are A-Changin’…

  3. Nancy Avatar

    Won’t even go into the headaches/expense I’ve had to deal with when it comes to the arrogance of local ranchers, clinging to that “open range” mentality, because their “daddy or granddaddy” were here first…..

  4. ff468 Avatar

    “These laws are antiquated and seem deeply unfair and unsafe. They place the responsibility onto the victims of the accident rather than onto the owner of the livestock on public roadways. These laws also set up situations where ranchers can intentionally place people at risk with no consequence to the rancher.”
    Ken, you hit the nail on the head.
    I live in Southeast Idaho where the tooth to lug nut ratio is very low and the cows outnumber people. Many, many times I have come close to ‘buying’ the rancher a new cow. How do we fix absurd laws like this? Especially in this state.
    The ranchers comment at the end of this story is very disturbing.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      The best thing to do is to contact your state representatives and ask them to support a change to the open range laws. I think a good place to start would be to ask that they at least put the liability onto the ranchers for keeping cattle off of major roads. I, fortunately have not had any real close calls but I have had to stop numerous times because cattle were on the highway. The scariest encounter was when I was in college and I was driving to Moscow from Boise. There were several black cattle on Highway 95 at the top of Whitebird Hill and it was dark and raining. I stopped in Grangeville and reported them to the sheriff. I hope nobody hit them.

  5. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    It’s still so sad – that it had to come to this point. Why did they insist on killing the animal, isn’t it the rancher’s property? I’m not hearing much about the drivers of the Subaru, if they were at fault at all. The officers are on administrative leave while the investigation is going on. Just some thoughts I had on the matter.

    1. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      Ida, for more coverage of the incident I checked out another newspaper. “Deputies began removing the injured passengers from the car when the injured bull began charging emergency personnel and cars.” Thus the action to shoot the bull.
      In open range country the driver is considered at fault – not the owner of the animal loose on the highway. I used to drive between Libby and Kalispell, Montana – until I found shorter cross country road – I avoided doing so at night because of the danger of cattle being on public land in open range country.

      Most police officers involved are put on administrative leave until investigations into any such incident have been concluded.

      Hopefully this type of event will lead to states changing the open range laws as currently used in much of the West.

      Ken, thanks for the report.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        I’d avoid it too – I wonder what happened. I don’t think it is always true that police officers automatically go on adm leave (maybe today they do).

        To me, if the officers are not at fault or there aren’t questions about their actions, they go on about their business. It’s still a shock that someone was shot 5 times. I hope that his wife will be ok.

  6. DLB Avatar

    It’s impossible to know, but I wonder how much effect right wing news media is having on situations like this. During and after the standoff with the self-serving public lands trespasser Cliven Bundy, republican leaning media outlets made him out to be a hero, and the BLM agents out to be jack-booted thugs trying to trample on American freedoms.

    Combine that with a general proliferation of stories that make any government employees with a badge out to be an oppressor of freedom, and it’s not hard to assume that folks affected by the messages would start to lash out more based on their perceived persecution.

    This man that died might not even know who Cliven Bundy is, but this incident has made me wonder how many misguided individuals will die in the future because of the media glorifying individuals like Bundy.

    “A rancher who had grown increasingly paranoid and angry over the last several years was shot by deputies because of his overreaction upon arriving at the scene. He demanded the bull be returned to his possession immediately and became increasingly aggressive, in part fueled by his paranoid misconceptions which had been building for years. He had told friends he would never be railroaded by the federal government thugs that were out to get him.”

    Would anyone be surprised to hear that description of this incident, or one that will more than likely occur in the future?

  7. Immer Treue Avatar

    Comments, on varied news sources, everything that’s wrong with the internet. Not so much to join the fray, and not accusing anyone, but all I can picture is dark, somewhat chaotic, and a whole lot of miscommunication.

    Something, open range aside, that did not have to happen.

  8. Cathy Avatar

    This incident is still under investigation. How is it that someone thinks that we need to change laws, when the facts are not even verified nor confirmed. I would say there is an agenda and someone wants to jump on the bandwagon, a little too fast.

  9. Nancy Avatar

    Some thoughts on “open range” laws

    50, 60 years ago, roads were not even paved in many rural areas out here in the west, which kept most motorists, local or otherwise, on their toes (washboard, washouts, comes to mind 🙂

    Seems like just about everything at some point these days, comes with a risk attached because of a lack of concern or planning, by our species (human)

    Fact is, 95 is a US highway thru Idaho, speed limits posted – 55 to 65 mph and how many, especially out of state people, have any clue at all as to what “open rage” really means?

    I’ve run into makeshift signs and just recently, over the past couple of years (on a state highway near me) in Montana, claiming either open range or cows on the road. Like some announcement that folks driving those roads should somehow be aware of some rancher’s lack of commitment to their product………

    The officers who showed up at this accident in Idaho, from what I gather, had dispatch call this rancher, so guessing not the first incident involving his cattle on local highways? And when will it become painfully obvious, to all involved, that cows just shouldn’t be allowed to wander around on roadways with 50 to 70 mph speed limits are allowed?

    Surprised the people in that Subaru were not killed on impact.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      +1 I don’t live in open range country, but I do live in farm country, and just recently a couple of beautiful red and black Angus had got out and hadn’t wandered out onto the main road at that point, but I was worried there’d be an accident, so I called the police to track down their owner.

      You’re so right about the building, building and building without thought to consequence in today’s world.

  10. Debbie Avatar

    Sounds like a bunch of people don’t know what they are talking about. The cattle wouldn’t be on the highway if the idiots who bought private land along public highways would put up fences between them and public ground behind them. We get a lot of out of the area people moving in to be part of the community but they are not. Those cows have been coming off a forest permit to this ranch which is there home for decades. It should be the responsibilty of the forest circus and the private land owners to maintain the fence. The cows get down to the highway through private ground from the forest above. The cops run them back up on private ground and then those folks chase them down to the highway again. Where are the fences behind their properties? These cows would be forced to follow the fence line to the ranch now wouldn’t they? I know these people personally and the truth has not come out. It’s a pack of bull shit. It was mishandled by the cops and they caused a ranching family a lot of unnecessary grief and a lot of trouble in the county with their rambo tactics. These “reporters” are a part of the problem with their sensationalizing a tragic incident and they all seem to have an agenda. The truth or admittance to the fact that they don’t know the truth would be better than printing this crap.

    1. SAP Avatar

      So, if I understand you correctly, you think private property owners should have to build (& maintain) a cattle-tight fence along their public land boundaries?

      Too bad the ranchers who sold the land to real estate developers didn’t put fencing covenants on the parcels before they cashed out. But that would have reduced the selling price, most likely. So what we’re left with is people doing what they want with their private property.

      1. Debbie Avatar

        The people who come here to buy land are the types who want everything “natural” looking. Usually city folks who want to live the country life without taking the responsibility that comes with living in the country. Let let their dogs run. They tear down fences.They love to complain about cattle in their yard. Yes it is their responsibility to fence. You can bet there were fences in place when the property sold.

        1. SAP Avatar

          I don’t know about your Idaho laws, but here in MT, it’s the landowner’s responsibility to fence livestock out IF the landowner doesn’t want the livestock on her/his land. It’s not the landowner’s legal responsibility to help keep someone else’s livestock from getting to the highway.

          I guess you could try to get some new laws passed — maybe make it illegal to turn ranches into housing developments, or maybe have these awful outsiders pass approval by a tribunal of locals before they’re allowed to move in. I guess you could try to make everyone build and maintain fences to help someone else with their for-profit business.

          Of course, none of those ideas seems to respect private property rights. Or do private property rights only apply to certain groups?

          1. Nancy Avatar

            +1 SAP

  11. Jerry Mullins Avatar
    Jerry Mullins

    To hlb, the Indians were there first.

  12. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    It’s suspicious to me that nothing at all is being said about the Subaru drivers. The implication is that they were not seriously injured, and it is a couple. I’m a Prius driver myself (just slightly less held in contempt than a Subaru!) jk. Young urban hipsters from out of state? Not paying attention and/or unfamiliar with the area? Texting while driving (you can’t imagine how often I see this and the erratic driving). But of course no matter what we do, we’re never in the wrong. There are signs about farm and open range areas, deer crossings, etc. I could be totally wrong – but I wonder when the facts will come out.

    Concerning about the poor man and his wife.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      It’s not that I don’t appreciate Ken’s post, I do. But – it’s sad that it resulted in death. My prediction is that these cops will be transferred very soon, if they are not fired.

    2. Immer Treue Avatar

      “Both people inside the Subaru were taken to a Boise hospital by air ambulance.”

      Don’t know if Idaho treats things differently than here, but air ambulance usually means injuries are significant.

      Have you ever driven in open range at night?

      All the rest is circumspection/assumption no better than the comments on the myriad of news sites. Best for all of us to remain on the mute side of what happened until those who were there have their say.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        Well….yes. I think I said that no one has the facts yet? I’ve driven in farm country and rural wildlife country at night. On both coasts.

        1. Ida Lupines Avatar
          Ida Lupines

          Sorry, CA open rangeland during the daytime.

      2. Barb Rupers Avatar
        Barb Rupers

        I want to hear the comments from the two occupants of the Subaru.

      3. SAP Avatar

        Dark highway, black bull. They’re hard to see in the dark.

        I can see how this kind of incident would boil over. It’s dark, chaotic, and there would be flashing emergency lights from responders’ vehicles. That, plus injuries, would make the bull even more unpredictable than usual.

        Then the rancher shows up. Maybe he didn’t see the bull charging people, so he’s wanting to see if the bull is badly hurt before deciding to euthanize. He’s out there in the dark, lots of new information coming at him, and dealing with the chaos and flashing lights himself (don’t underestimate how disorienting that can be if you haven’t been there).

        So, he’s wanting to check the bull, and the deputies are wanting to neutralize (kill, really the only option in that setting) the bull to keep him from hurting anyone. They argue, it escalates, something goes wrong . . . it’s all very sad.

        1. Debbie Avatar

          I’m very close to this and I have a first hand account of what happened.The rancher was called to the scene to put the bull down which he attempted to do until the very deputies that called him to the scene interfered. I’d never heard anything about the bull charging until the news media got into it and screwed up the stories. I have heard from other sources since that the cops had shot the bull in the guts. You can’t put a bull down that way and yes that might make the bull mad. He was in a lot of pain and being threatened. Dumb young rambo cops. There is more to the story that I don’t feel good about saying other than the real story hasn’t been told and the one I’m hearing points at Jack. I’ll call that bullshit. As for the car drivers, they may have life flighted them but I’ve not heard a work. We are a ways from a good hospital here. But also it just makes the story look better. As for open range–you are 100 times more likely to hit a deer or elk than livestock on the highway here. Tell the F&G to manage those critters.

          1. SAP Avatar

            “As for the car drivers, they may have life flighted them but I’ve not heard a work. We are a ways from a good hospital here. But also it just makes the story look better.”

            I’m a volunteer first responder in a rural Montana county. We’re 60-90 miles from the nearest trauma center, depending on where the wreck is. I can tell you, I’ve never called in a helicopter to add drama or spice up any news story. If we’ve got major trauma, possible spinal injuries, or a patient crashing from shock, we want that lifeflight’s highly trained crew there, and we want that patient on his/her way to a trauma center asap. The helicopter can have them to the trauma center before our all-volunteer ambulance can leave the barn.

  13. Jim Avatar

    What idiotic moron thinks that this wall is solely responsible for this particular incident . How in the heck did you even become a reporter . if your dad or uncle or wife’s dad own the company ?
    This is just an unfortunate incident where one rancher was trying to be helpful and two deputies misunderstood what the rancher was trying to do .

  14. Moose Avatar

    Misunderstandings and guns don’t mix well.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Isn’t that interesting – this was going through my mind too – an undercurrent with this issue in addition to a violent loss of life that bothers me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The continuing encroachment of the New West into the Old West, and I wonder if the new could be worse. I’m not an anti-police type either – the ones I’ve had dealings with are tough on the exterior, but very people-oriented, problem-solving and compassionate just below the surface. Depends on the problem they encounter, I suppose.

      I know people have complaints about ranching, but I wonder if the new could be equally problematic or even worse.

      Thanks Nancy and I look forward to reading.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        Small-town police where I live. Plus, people around my town fence in their property up to their eyeballs, and I always think it’s one of human nature’s quirks.

        If people want to move to the West, I think we all have to give a little and work together. Unless people want the West to turn into another overdeveloped, paved-over big city or cookie-cutter suburbs like the millions of nondescript others in our country. As long as people eat meat, there is going to be livestock. You can’t have NIMBY. Feedlots are inhumane and a concentration of greenhouse gases. The amount of meat we eat can’t work in an ever-growing population.

  15. Dana Quinney Avatar
    Dana Quinney

    I think many easterners and urbanites have no idea how cattle are managed on public lands, and how much public land there is. (BTW, freeways are fenced.) People think “cows in a pasture with a road running along one side,” they don’t think, “cows in a 500,000-acre public-land allotment with 12 roads running through it.” This is a complex problem and will require an expensive solution. Also, in some western states, ranchers dominate the government. This is changing toward urbanite domination. On the one hand, we have had exploiters controlling the environment, but it is changing toward the ignorant and inexperienced controlling the environment. In both cases, guess what loses?? (Idaho biologist with 40 years of experience out there on public lands.)

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I know all too well how cattle are managed on public lands and that is why I think things need to be drastically changed. I’ve lived and travelled in every region of Idaho and the current open range laws are completely incompatible with modern times. Public lands grazing has degraded millions of acres of fish and wildlife habitat and it is all greatly subsidized by American taxpayers to the tune of about $121-$500 million annually.

      1. Debbie Avatar

        Spoken like someone who really don’t know what he speaks of. There are far fewer cattle on grazing leases than ever. They run down nothing. It’s easy for city people to speak out about stuff like this and listen to all the special interest group rhetoric and they suck it all in like its fact. I used to write for a newspaper. I believe journalists should have ethics enough to print fact and not opinion. With cities eating up farm and ranch ground and running out ag, the food supplies in the US are going to become shorter and shorter. There isn’t enough private ranch ground to raise the food this country requires. And food could become real pricey. Right now it’s relatively cheap. Be careful of what you wish for.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          “With cities eating up farm and ranch ground and running out ag, the food supplies in the US are going to become shorter and shorter”

          Debbie, new here on The Wildlife News?

          Take a breather and read about some “sisters” addressing real problems when it comes to public lands grazing:

          “Improperly managed public-lands grazing is one of the most destructive uses of our precious wild public lands.

          Broads does not want to eliminate all grazing, but instead, advocates for management that ensures grazing practices are sustainable, allowing lands to remain ecologically diverse with healthy, functioning ecosystems”

          Fact is public lands/including the wildlife on them, have been used and more recently in the past few decades, abused by anyone, including and especially ranchers, if they can continue to keep the prices down to their “comfort” level/abuse while government/special interests groups rally around them, until of course, they decide to sell the ranch…

          But I digress 🙂

          I’ve lived in Montana for over 20 years, in the “heart” of what would be considered cattle country. I’ve seen my share of black cows, on black roads and why I don’t drive at night anymore……

          But, I know of one, young individual, who came close to loosing his life, when he hit a black cow, on a black road (speed limit 60, at night)

          Fences were not down, but a gate was left open, when cows had recently been gathered off public lands.

          The owner of this cow, a very, very wealthy rancher, who lived miles away, could of cared less that someone came close to dying because of his loose cow, on a public highway.

          He instead pleaded to what is similar to the 5th but what I would call The Rancher Bovine Amendment – “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.


          1. skyrim Avatar

            Well stated Nancy! ^..^

        2. Jay Avatar

          “Spoken like someone who really don’t know what he speaks of.”

          Are you pot, or kettle?

    2. Debbie Avatar

      Wow! The level of ignorance on this issue begins at the beginning.Cattle on public land reduces the risk of wild fires but I’m sure there are some on here that think that’s great too. Cattle come off these leases in the fall. Most of them don’t end up in the highways. If they do you can blame the people who have tore down the fences bordering these grazing leases. Ranchers may dominate in more rural areas of the desert country but not up here. As much as I’m on the road, I rarely see cattle on the road. It happens but it isn’t always avoidable. Cattle have minds of their own even in fenced areas. The ranchers here work pretty hard keeping cattle off the road in this area. I’ll say it again. The blame lies with the idiots who have torn down the fences. And I will say this again–the biggest accident threat of 95 is from deer and elk. Everytime I am on the highway I play hit and miss. In one trip between New Meadows and Council, about 30 miles, there were 10 dead deer. People drive like idiots. Most of them are in a big hurry to get from one end of the state to the other and they don’t care about anything in there way. I usually have 2 or 3 close calls with bad drivers everytime I’m out. Don’t blame the ranchers and this isn’t to you Dana Quinney. You are right on the money about the ignorant and inexperienced messing up the environment and then we have news articles like this floating around confusing those who really have no idea what this is all about.

      1. DLB Avatar

        Before you even get into the scientific debate, don’t you think it’s a little too convenient that more grazing and logging is always good for the environment?

        It’s hard not to be cynical when someone always supports what they believe to be in their own economic interests or the interests of their neighbors.

        There’s so much more honesty in just acknowledging your refusal to support any environmental causes that you perceive to have an economic cost to you or your neighbors.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          🙂 🙂

  16. monty Avatar

    Debbie, right on! The one thing you left out is all of the jerks who litter the highways. Many people do not deserve to live in this country due to their uncivil habits. As our run away population continues to grow we need to be more civil not less. I think this country needs more kindergarten teachers.

  17. Wayne Avatar

    I would like to know what happened to the eye witness comment,on what transpired.

    1. SAP Avatar

      Very disturbing account. Three living witnesses paint a very chilling picture of what the deputies did.

      From the scene photo, looks like there ought to be a few other witnesses among the emergency responders. I would think if there had been an altercation prior to the shooting, someone would have heard angry words being exchanged.

      From the nephew’s account, it sounds like Jack Yantis was handling it all calmly — didn’t have a firearm, asked his wife and nephew to get him a rifle and the skidsteer. Sounds like he was focused on the task of euthanizing the bull and getting the animal off the highway.

      If those deputies don’t have exculpatory witnesses or video, they better be ready to live out their days behind bars.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        Just awful. That poor family. The deputies don’t sound very familiar with ranch country.

      2. Immer Treue Avatar

        Upon reading the article, certainly appears there could/should be two more in Idaho prison colors.

        1. Barb Rupers Avatar
          Barb Rupers

          I’m still waiting for statements from the driver and passenger of the subaru.

        2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Immer Treue,

          I’ve got to agree with Barb Rupers. We’ve heard one side of the story.

          This will be an event folks in the area will be talking about for a long time.

          1. Immer Treue Avatar

            Sure it would be good to hear what the accident victims have to say, but if they were air evacuated out, were they in any condition to see what transpired?

            Somebody made a mistake, a fatal one.

  18. Nancy Avatar

    More on the incident from family & friends, lots of comments:

    It would appear, not the first time Mr. Yantis’s cattle have been loose on the highway.

  19. Immer Treue Avatar

    Wondering aloud electronically, if African Americans are watching how this plays out.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Immer – I seem to recall someone (in one of the comments sections on a news link) make reference to BLACKCOWSMATTER. Yeah, would fit if you were a rancher.

      And just a few minutes ago, I watched 3 black cows wandering past my place on the road.

      Speed limit – 50. No one pays any attention to it.

      This was a tragic accident, not only for the people that hit this bull (and no one knows what their injuries were) but for the first responders and law enforcement, that arrived on the scene shortly after.

      No doubt there will be many accounts of what actually happened in all the confusion of that night but fact is, its not the 1900’s or even the 1990’s anymore.

      Allowing the excuse of “open range” for accidents involving “loose” cattle on roadways with speed limits of 60 to 70 mph (where many people travelling those roads have no clue about open range laws) is just asking for trouble (and lawsuits) and perhaps more accidents/incidents like this one, in areas emotionally charged with who’s at fault? And who really should be at fault when their livestock, end up wandering around on highways at night?

      And not talking about light weight livestock like sheep or chickens who decided to take a walk about, but cattle, weighing in the neighborhood of a thousand pounds or more, suddenly coming at you, while driving the designated speed limit of 50 to 60 mph.

        1. Barb Rupers Avatar
          Barb Rupers

          At least Chile had a bovine warning picture of a bull – not a cow like most of the others.

          My favorite was the fringed lizard road sign. Australia does have a lot of unique animals making for interesting signs

          1. Jake Jenson Avatar

            I like the black bear with cub sign. I never paid attention to the type of bovine displayed on the signs thanks for pointing that out. The highway 95 and 55 which I use quite often heading north from Eagle keep me alert because of the traffic accident history they have. Weekends are the worst.

  20. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Until such time as open range laws change, the laws should be observed. Is there a reason why people cannot slow down in a zone marked wildlife, cattle, etc? A sign indicating cattle and open range should give a driver the headsup to slow down and be alert. The speed limit ought to be lowered. We can’t seem to slow down for anything in the modern world. Even schoolbusses and children, walkers with dogs. To think that all people drive the speed limit is inaccurate.

    It’s very odd that nothing at all is being said about the Subaru drivers. Translation? Lawyered up because liability is on them? They set this whole chain of events in motion; I am tired of people not taking responsibility for their actions. At best a matter of speeding, at worst drunk, high or distracted by cell phone.

    Were they air-lifted out due to terrain or the extent of injury?

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Also, it doesn’t sound like, from the most recent article, that the bull was in any condition to charge police and EMS personnel with a shattered rear leg!

  21. Nancy Avatar

    “They set this whole chain of events in motion”

    Oh but did they Ida? Since nothing has been heard re: their side of the story. Nothing from the first responders and nothing from law enforcement. And of course the loose bull, who actually was the one who set this whole chain of tragic events in motion because there haven’t been enough accidents, yet, to warrant a closer look at “open range” laws.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      No. The bull and other cattle are there already. Signs on the road and laws alert people of their presence. The Subaru hit the bull, that is a fact, setting the events in motion. There are so many variables at play here. How fast they were going, we don’t know yet. Seatbelts? Who knows. The bull’s shattered rear leg would imply, to me, broken in several places and perhaps protruding bone, and a hard hit. I don’t know what the off-the-cuff definition is.

      Yes, they could take a closer look at open range laws, or perhaps lower the speed limit.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        The loose bull is not human, so the human(s) ought to have sense enough to be alert and careful. I hope someone wasn’t trying to steal him, talk about road kill – things are so weird nowadays, a prize horse in Florida was killed and butchered.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          The humans that OWNED this bull, Ida, ought to have sense enough to keep him safe AND off the roads!!

          1. Ida Lupines Avatar
            Ida Lupines

            We need less roads, but I only see us with more roads in the future. What to do? I fail to see the wisdom of high-speed roads in open-range country. There’s bound to be trouble.

            1. Ida Lupines Avatar
              Ida Lupines

              So I guess it’s just a matter of patience. Eventually, all open-range land will be paved over and developed for housing for our multitudes. Then they can battle with each other over fencing and trespassing and car accidents and speed limits, water, and all the other messes we create and cause. Personally, I’d rather have the range.

              1. Immer Treue Avatar

                Water will be the limiting factor.

                1. Barb Rupers Avatar
                  Barb Rupers

                  + Immer

            2. Barb Rupers Avatar
              Barb Rupers

              Ida, have you ever traveled on Idaho US 95? It is the only major highway between north and south Idaho. Many improvements have been made to this road since I was a kid – the major grades were improved on Lewiston, Winchester and White Bird to decrease the travel time between the two parts of the state by several hours. The last I knew the night time speed limit on this highway was 55 mph. This part of Idaho does not have too many roads.

        2. Barb Rupers Avatar
          Barb Rupers

          Ida, why are you injecting “stealing him” (the bull and then a prize horse killed in Florida) into the already muddled discussion? More conjucture does not help clearify the situation.

  22. Debbie Avatar

    To clarify what it is like here in Adams County–it is very rural. The cattle come down to the road sometimes mostly in the fall because they are coming off of summer range. People have bought up small acreages and have not maintained the fence line between them and the forest. Of course they complain about the cattle. They come down to the road and Jack and Donna check several times a day and get them off the road. Sometimes someone calls in about cattle and the cops run them back up on the small land owners and they run them back down on the road. Idiots, all of them. If the fences were up as they should be, the cattle would funnel into the ranch. People have caused this. Whether this bull just got out or he was coming home, I don’t know. The biggest hazards on the stretch of road are deer and bicyclers who don’t seem to care whether they get run over or not. It gets narrow and winding just north of where the bull was hit. The curves slow people down. It opens up there in Council Valley where the bull was hit just below their house. People speed up. Lots of tickets up here. The speed limit is 55 mph. Drivers think they are on a freeway instead of 95. They tailgate, and speed, pass on corners. I travel alot through there and I can tell you there is at least 2 close calls each time before I get from New Meadows to Council. A truck driver headed south was the first to be stopped and saw the whole event. He was mortified by what he witnessed and plans to give a statement. There are others including a man who was having supper there that night with Jack, Donna and Rowdy. There was no altercation. Just what was on their minds is hard to figure out. I think it is the times. Cops have a military demeanor and they have been aggressive with many of the residents of the county. They forget that they work for the taxpayers of Adams County. I read today that there are 16 cases in the works over abuse to citizens. I need to verify that for myself. Open range is not usually much of a problem here. We don’t have cattle running all over like in the picture but I know where that was taken. Different story. Most ranchers make a great effort to keep them off the roads. Sometimes they get out as livestock will do but it isn’t from a lack of effort. Cattle are too valuable to have them killed by traffic. If you come through Adams County make sure you watch for the deer and elk though.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      It’s typical, the speeding and bad, irresponsible driving. Same here! So sad it all had to come down to this. I think police tend to have a ‘by the book’ mentality sometimes, so something that isn’t really throws them. Although Mr. Yantis was called to the scene to take care of his animal, so I don’t know why the police would have reacted the way they did. I can’t imagine what must have happened. That poor family’s lives have changed forever. We really have to think of how our actions affect others, I think.

      Of course, we don’t know the situation of the other drivers – but silence speaks volumes.

      1. Barb Rupers Avatar
        Barb Rupers

        Ida why don’t you reserve judgement until more information is learned about the facts of this case.

        “I can’t imagine what must have happened.” Just quit imagining, Ida.

        1. timz Avatar

          Based on what came out yesterday, if true, this does not look good for the police.

  23. Chris Harbin Avatar
    Chris Harbin

    Barbara is right. Nobody has said anything about speeding or not driving safely. Why rush to judgement on what is a muddled case packed with emotion. It is tragic that someone lost their life over this but the driver of the car, the passenger and the animal are really third parties in relation to the rancher that was killed and (allegedly) the officers called to checkout the accident.

  24. Shari Avatar

    We have 40 acres in cattle country in WA and the first thing we did was put on a sturdy 4 strand barb wire fence. We have a good relationship with the open range rancher. We let the cows onto the property 3 x a year to keep the grass down to prevent fire when lightning strikes. We are careful driving on all the rural roads as cows can and do get out. This past 2 yrs fences were cut to allow the cattle to escape the fires. It sounds like the rancher was calm and trying to take care of his bull. The bull was probably worth as much or more than the car that ran into him. This is not a free for all for ranchers unless the ranch is owned by some corporate entity, it is probably a hard working family that does not have a huge bank account. And yes the natives were here first way back when there were no fences or roads and the earth belonged to all. The point is that a man is dead and the wife in the hospital this was unnecessary. Seems we need a lot more training on how to calm situations down Especially law enforcement. This is truly tragic and we need all the facts. Just remember your meat is not raised at the grocery store.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Shari – as I said to Debbie, new to the site? Might be worth wandering around and checking out previous articles and comments.

      I’m sure folks who frequent this site, myself included, have a great deal of sympathy for the Yantis family and their loss. Would be willing to guess when its all said and done, even more families will be destroyed because of one loose bull, who happened to be black, wandering around on a dark highway at night.

      And I’m not just tossing my thoughts out there, I’ve lived on a rural road for over 20 years (in Montana) There are 3 big ranches on my road and all of them march their cattle to public lands every spring (roughly 2, maybe 3 thousand head?) and then they gather them up and march them back to their ranches in the fall.

      In the past month, 2 out of those 3 ranches, were able to account for every cow/calf pair they put on public lands last spring. Which is surprising since about 6 thousand acres burned in some of their allotments this summer AND a pack of wolves had made them selves at home on the range land/forest area.

      The other ranch is still missing 2 cow/calf pairs. But hey, last year, they were missing over a hundred head of cattle, that decided, THEY didn’t want to be “found” on their vast public land allotment, till THEY were good and ready to come down 🙂 One of those late cows got hit, killed, coming home.

      And I’m sure you already know, ranchers pay a pathetic amount of money to graze their cattle on public lands compared to private lands. So the mentality is – no real big rush there to get them off public lands.

      Had a nearby ranching neighbor, who for years,thought nothing about allowing his few milk cows access to the strips of road, county right of ways, along his property. He stopped that practice when the gravel road was paved and the speed limit went up to 50 mph.

      So, reining it all back in to the original article, would this tragedy have occurred (and many similar tragedies are documented) if states, that still condone “open range” laws, took a much closer look at lives lost, both cattle and human in “open range” areas, where signs are great, but do little for folks traveling highways, at posted speed limits, ignorant of what those signs actually mean……

      I’ve travelled enough gravel roads over the years, with cattle right next to those roads, to realize, “slow, means go” to cattle and they won’t hesitate to scurry right across the road you’re on, just as you approach them. Night or day. And out here in the west? Paved highways absorb the heat and they are great places for cattle to gather when the nights get cold.

      “These special laws, written solely to protect a special class of people (ranchers) are responsible for the incident in Adams County on November 1st. It is likely that this incident would not have occurred if it was the responsibility of the ranchers to keep livestock off of public highways”

  25. Shari Avatar

    Nancy, have you owned and operated a ranch and raised range cattle? I grew up on a farm, there is nothing easy, and this not a big bundle of money being made. We do it because we love the life, it teaches hard work, we would much rather have less money in the outback then a bucket of money in the city. I am one of the older ones on Soc. Sec. these days but still garden, feed the critters, etc. Sometime you have to walk in the shoes of a rancher to really understand. There is no easy answer and no matter what is done someone is going to loose and it won’t be cheap/

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Shari – I’m also like you, on SS, still able to garden, grow a few crops, chickens, feed the critters etc. but also painfully aware of the changes taking place in my area and I would guess your area too when it comes to what ranching was like in the good ole days and what ranching is like today.

      A lot of turmoil within many of the families I got to know over the years, some hoped to stay and just work the ranch, regardless of the income because they loved the land, the simple lifestyle, and then others in the family, just hoping to force a sale of the ranch when an elder passed because they got to far away and have bigger $$ financial goals/ dreams.

      But getting off track here, because that simple, pure lifestyle, that held ranching families together for decades, goes tits up in a hurry when money, lots of money, gets waved around in front of tired old ranchers who realize their kids, or grandkids, want to make a bundle of money, without any hard work.

  26. Rich Avatar


    Forgive me for butting in but I have the feeling that you are more interested in the legality of the situation than the fact that individuals were injured as a direct result of allowing large dim witted domestic animals to share a high speed highway paid for by our taxes. You may not care what happens to the unsuspecting occupants of the car that were injured – but you should. Mr. Yantis apparently didn’t care either as it sounds like other drivers had struck his cows in the past and were perhaps injured or killed. As a farmer and forester living in a rural area, I would be devastated if I were responsible for someone being injured or killed because of my carelessness regardless of whether it was “open range” or not. Mr. Yantis didn’t seem to care that he was putting innocent human lives at risk while allowing his cows to be in harms way – but apparently Karma did care!

    1. Shari Avatar

      I am sure he cares deeply but livestock will get out. We live on a busy highway and carry additional insurance just in case the unthinkable happens. The ranch was there long before the hwy. Whenever I drive in range country I drive very carefully. In fact with all the fires this yr Hwy 20 had migrating deer every 100 ft or less in the middle of the night. We had to slow way down and everyone in the vehicle on the look out for a critter along the state hwy. for nearly 30 miles. Deer and elk do not obey traffic signs either and they were here long before we were. Some states are getting it right and putting in wildlife crossings via overhead bridges or under the highway tunnels for cattle and wildlife. Good idea if you ask me. Unless you personally know the family it would be wrong to say they do not care. Many of these ranches treat their cattle as tamed. We just lost our purebred white face cow and were devastated. We had raised with a bottle from the time she was orphaned at 6 wks. The rancher seen his bull in extreme pain and was probably concentrating on putting the animal out of it’s suffering and saving the meat. I do not think ranchers deliberately allow their cows to run into cars. But cows are creatures of habit and go the same route to home. Maybe we all need to slow down and enjoy the scenery especially in range lands.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Elk – a somewhat similar situation but getting little air time:

  27. Nancy Avatar

    “Every year, as autumn leaves begin to fall, cattle come streaming “home,” down from the grazing allotments that ranchers lease on the forest. Unfortunately, one of the travel routes they use is Idaho 95. Many of the cattle coming off the forest are black, and the combination of a black cow on the blacktop of a narrow, winding highway is a recipe for disaster. Nobody likes the situation, especially the ranchers who every year lose cattle that are hit by vehicles”

  28. Mark Bailey Avatar
    Mark Bailey

    Another excellent piece, Ken, thank you.

    I am a lover of the land in the West. And if I never saw another cowboy hat it would be too soon.

    1. Shari Avatar

      Really Mark, have you ever taken the time to get to know the families? Do you eat beef from the store? What do you do for a living? Seems like a judgemental statement to me without personal on the ground knowledge.

  29. Mark Bailey Avatar
    Mark Bailey

    “The rancher strings barbed wire across the range, drills wells and bulldozes stock ponds everywhere, drives off the elk and antelope and bighorn sheep, poisons coyotes and prairie dogs, shoots eagle and bear and cougar on sight, supplants the native bluestem and grama grass with tumbleweed, cow shit, cheat grass, snakeweed, anthills, poverty weed, mud and dust and flies – and then leans back and smiles broadly at the Tee Vee cameras and tells us how much he loves the West.” -Ed Abbey

    Ed’s list was too short. He left out wolf slaughter. And beaver eradication. And families in Subarus. The very families without whose subsidy the rancher could not survive.

    “Give me the money, now get out of here.” -Rancher

  30. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    This article seems to have generated enough interest that the Idaho Statesman just did an article on Idaho’s open range laws.

    Ag-friendly laws, fenced in elsewhere in West, still rule rural Idaho.”

  31. Nancy Avatar

    Ralph, some thoughts from another part of the world with regard to laws that need to be changed:

    Coming from a country that considers its cows sacred (kind of like out here the US west 🙂 but the times they are a changing (interesting comments):

  32. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Thanks Nancy,

    I have always viewed this aspect of Hinduism with distaste. It was interesting to read the explanation.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “Wandering cows on Indian streets cause accidents, though it is customary not to hold the animals responsible because of the holy status of cows in Hinduism. The roads are perceived to be rightful place of belongings for stray cows”

      One could play around with the words here like substituting western highways with Indian streets, holy status of cows, with profitable status of cows and of course, Hinduism with Rancherism.

      There are a few substitutions that would come to mind when striking a cow one on the road at 60 miles an hour but top of my list would be –
      HOLY COW!!!!

  33. Nancy Avatar

    Not sure why I’m making a jump from the Yantis tragedy to the link above – but, it appears to be just another tragic situation involving a weapon (with little media attention) tense situation and the request to “put out your butt” resulted in the death of an innocent individual because guns, are too often these days, being put into the hands of idiots. Whether they be citizens or law enforcement…..

    Anybody else getting tired of seeing this kind of message when it comes to victims of gun violence?

    “She will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with her family, friends, co-workers and customers.”

    1. skyrim Avatar

      Ya, me……
      Of course that was said about 2500 tragedies ago.
      There are a few things that every knuckle draggn’ idiot can do, that they can claim a “right” to do, that is tearing at the fabric of society; procreate and own as many guns as they can get their hands on. And they’re doing both in record numbers.
      Will whoever is left please turn the lights off?
      (relax flag wavers, that train has already left)

    2. Immer Treue Avatar

      Yeah, but we have to be able to protect ourselves from the chemtrail laying, Babylonian, Malthusian, blah blah blah federal gubmint.

      1. Barb Rupers Avatar
        Barb Rupers

        Off the subject, but I would like to suggest a rather old book, 1884, that is short and gives a different perspective to dimensions: Flatland by A Square (Edwin Abbott). It draws you into different dimensions then leads you to understand the constraints of confinement to Flatland, then Lineland and on to more dimensions. Not all triangle congruence postulates that hold in three dimensions are applicable in Flatland because the figure would have to be flipped out of the two dimensional plane in order to make all the points coincide. Equilateral and isoscelese triangles can be rotated in the plane so there are postulates for those cases.
        This came to mind because Immer mentioned chemtrails and other topics often discussed elsewhere; today there was a video of flat Earth with the sun being close.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          How close does the movie follow the book, Barb?

          1. Barb Rupers Avatar
            Barb Rupers

            I haven’t seen the movie; I’ll have to look for it.

            At the time I read the book I was taking a class in non-Euclidian geometry and found the way the author described Flatland and its inhabitants to be intriguing.

  34. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Finally, there is information of the people who were in the vehicle that hit the big bull on the highway. They have been almost ignored in the post event discussion as reported by the media. They are Doris and Jack Garner. Both were badly injured. Doris had to be cut out of the Subaru. Photos show their vehicle flattened on the hood with the window breached. Here is the story in the Idaho Statesman.

    1. Mareks Vilkins Avatar
      Mareks Vilkins

      Doris Garner …was taken by helicopter to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center with multiple broken bones in her neck, skull and chest, a severe concussion, and deep cuts on her head and left hand

      death seat – the car seat beside the driver of an automobile; believed to be the most dangerous place to sit in a car in case of an accident

  35. Mareks Vilkins Avatar
    Mareks Vilkins

    “I do not think it appropriate for either of the deputies involved to publicly comment on the incident until the investigation is completed,” Dinius told the Statesman. “Suffice it to say, we have reviewed the Yantis family members’ version of events and they are not accurate in numerous material respects.”

  36. Maryjane Avatar

    If I wanted to go into the livestock business, I might spend money on a fence as part of my business’s financial plan. But why should I spend money on a “livestock tight” fence to enclosed livestock-vacant property? I shouldn’t have to be the one to make capital expenditures just because I buy property out west and have a livestock-irresponsible rancher nearby. We’re not talking about one or two docile cows wandering in, we’re talking about large herds of 1000#+ cattle coming in and devastating private property.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole