Idaho Fish and Game Commission Stifles Conservation Voices

(Written by Talasi Brooks)

I recently testified before the Idaho Fish and Game Commission opposing proposals to increase wolf-killing and allow glorified wolf baiting in Idaho.  I pointed out that since the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) does not have a wolf population estimate based on radio collar data and aerial surveys, increasing wolf killing does not reflect science-based management.  And, I reminded the Commission that it rejected a similar proposal to allow wolf baiting after overwhelming public opposition in 2017.  I also spoke in favor of restricting body-gripping Conibear traps, which can be lethal to pets.

When I returned to my seat, a self-identified trapper told me I’d better hurry to my car at the end of the evening.

Advocating for wolves in Idaho means addressing a hostile audience and being exposed to threats from bullies emboldened by having the Commission’s ear.  As I left the meeting, I wondered what exactly that man was threatening me with, or for—but his remark served its purpose of warning me that expressing a pro-wolf position before the Commission is unpopular, if not downright dangerous.

The Commission is composed of men, not one of whom could accurately identify himself as a conservationist or wolf advocate.  Until the Commission’s composition accurately reflects the diversity of wildlife interests in Idaho, it is stifling voices of thousands of Idahoans who support conservation of wolves and other wildlife species.  It’s time for wildlife conservation interests have an equal voice in Idaho’s wildlife management policy—or at least a safe seat at the table.


Talasi Brooks is a Staff Attorney, based in Western Watersheds Project’s Boise, Idaho office.




  1. Dale H Avatar
    Dale H

    We need an unbiased government party that weighs a balance in our wildlife scenario; not ones that lean to hunters, loggers, and frackers.

  2. Brian Philip Bennett Avatar

    Meanwhile, IDFG killed 206 elk in an attempt to learn more about how to control damage from elk herds.

    1. idaursine Avatar

      How awful. 🙁

      Also, I had read and keeping reading over the years that wolf-caused cattle depredations are down?

      So why do the wolf hunters need to be indulged with year-round hunting? The politicians seem to always use the wolf depredations as the reason to keep killing more of them.

      So why do the wolf hunters need to be indulged with year-round hunting? Facts seem to mean nothing. If people truly want to protect wolves in Idaho, they need to stand up:

  3. Ted Chu Avatar
    Ted Chu

    You should have reported that instantly to the F&G Commission. Sounds like you need to bring a tape recorded to such meetings.

    1. Suzanne Avatar

      I taped the whole meeting. Wish I had seen what happened to Talasi. The last one to testify of the evening joked that IDFG should be put in charge of immigrants so Idaho could get rid of them all, too. Half of the commissioners thought that was pretty funny. Where have all the ethical hunters gone?

    2. Barbara Slott Avatar
      Barbara Slott

      Ted, I’m not sure that the F&G commissioners would have done anything but laugh it off.

  4. Carole Beverly Avatar
    Carole Beverly

    These mutants are encouraged because Trump is president and is dismantling the rule of law. A seat at the table isn’t enough. We need to overhaul F&G agencies across the country. The consumptive-use paradigm is obsolete and needs to be replaced with an ecosystem-based paradigm funded by the general public. Definitely a tall order, but there is no other choice.

    I see that I agree with Edward Abbey!

  5. GPC Avatar

    Wolves, Coyotes…any wildlife advocates stand up for…always take a risk. That should NEVER be happening but the “mutants”, as described above, have become very emboldened by the behavior and viciousness of their “leaders”.

  6. idaursine Avatar

    They never should have been delisted back in 2011, and it is going to be mighty difficult to get their protection back again. Unless Idaho goes too far so that they can be relisted? but they no longer have any Federal supervision, so this is the predictable result of delisting. I hope people haven’t forgotten that.

    1. Suzanne Stone Avatar

      Wolves in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and eastern portions of Oregon and Washington are exempted from federal ESA protection by congressional action (thank you, Senators Crapo and Tester). We fought against delisting and won in federal court but lost when congress put the delisting legislation on a must pass appropriations bill.

  7. Hiker Avatar

    Isn’t threatening someone illegal? Bring a recording device, a stun gun, and a blade to these meetings. Don’t go alone, bring a friend who can be a witness. Report EVERY threat to the police.

  8. idaursine Avatar

    Would the news media report on it, or care to? It’s too bad there wasn’t a recording device.

  9. idaursine Avatar

    I kinda wish I had been there. I’d ask him why I needed to.

  10. Ann Woltjen Avatar
    Ann Woltjen

    I went to meetings of the DNR in Wisconsin where it was all hunters and when I got up to move around, a few would come close and breath down my neck, including women hunters. I wondered what the security would to if something happened.

  11. Elk375 Avatar

    I have been to FWP’s meetings in Montana and there has always been a game warden present. If one is threaten then they should immediately report it to the game warden, he/she is a state commission law enforcement agent.

  12. idaursine Avatar

    “Despite the Commission’s systematic progression of wolf hunting and trapping seasons, the 2019 wolf population estimate is still at levels well above federal recovery criteria of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide.”

    ‘Systematic progression’ is a great and appropriate choice of words. Why? And I don’t think it should ‘progress’ to public lands.

  13. idaursine Avatar

    It also implies that the state wants to keep wolves out of southern Idaho? I’m not sure what the population is in southern Idaho?

    It would seem contrary to the goals of the ESA, this ‘systematic removal’, that hasn’t changed in mindset since the colonists’ arrival. Can anything be done by the Federal gov’t? Doubtful under this administration, the chance was pre-Trump.

    Remember that this has all been written by the F&W department. Huge, huge, huge mistake to expect any kind of change and cooperation by a delisting.

  14. idaursine Avatar

    Ah, yes – the proposed ‘wolf-free’ zone(s) in southern Idaho:

    It also conveniently keeps them from expanding their ranges to Utah and Nevada. Sneaky. Isn’t that contrary to the ESA goals?

    Utah may be a state that is worse than any of the anti-wolf states.

  15. Bruce Bowen Avatar
    Bruce Bowen

    “The Government of the absolute (well moneyed) majority instead of the Government of the people is but the Government of the strongest interests; and when not efficiently checked, it is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised”. J C Calhoun

    “Dictators seek to control men’s thoughts and so they attempt to dictate science, education and religion. But dictated education is usually propaganda, dictated history is often mythology, (and) dictated science is pseudo-science”. Edwin Conklin

    We are back to government by ‘crony’ and if you go to meetings etc you should give up any fantasies of total fairness and make some plans to protect yourself and your free speech. If you get on the playing field then you must know the game rules. I have met a number of people who were well meaning but seemed to believe that the government/corporate cabal would respond to nice words and gentle conversation. Ain’t gonna happen.

    Remember that the trappers, hunters, loggers and ranchers have a presence in the field and frequent government offices more often than conservationists. I once argued to Audubons middle management that they should have their own vehicles with their logo on the side driving around on public lands. My suggestion was sternly and quickly dismissed as inappropriate. As I recall at the time the Aububon washington office had enough funds to hire advertising specialists to sell wine, road trips and cruises but they would not put their people on public lands. So what can one really expect to happen.

    The burden of trying to get environmental laws enforced should fall on the shoulders of the many but instead it has been Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds project and maybe a few others. So what happened to the other supposed conservation organizations?

    We are at a time when we need something like an environmental Magna Carta but it looks like most of the NGO folks are sitting in the bleachers.

    1. idaursine Avatar

      You’re right! There’s too much emphasis on placating in the name of ‘cooperation’.

      People know of threats and receiving bloody images in the mail an in their email, or on social media, for years.

      In reality, these cowards will be more likely to harm wildlife to send their vile messages because they know they will rarely be held accountable for it, and the animal victim cannot fight back. They may be arrested, but what’s done is done.

      I’m actually quite surprised by some of the more sterner responses by F&W departments to the really bad abuses we read about, so kudos for that.

      I also worry that a Great Lakes delisting attempt will rear its ugly head again, because there are several Democrats who do and have supported it, one who is running for president. All in the name of ‘we support the ESA and when an animal has recovered we support their removal from the Endangered Species list’, while completely ignoring the abuses.

  16. Jeneal L Young Avatar
    Jeneal L Young

    The trapper threatened your life for speaking out! The state of Idaho and Crapo has a Zero in wildlife preservation. Like the 200+elk they killed, The Wild Horses rounded up, the Bighorn Sheep, The wolf’s killed by trappers. The cattlemen like the Simplots put salt down in areas where they want the cattle to trample! There taking out all the Junipers and pinions in the Owyhee Mnt. Range! They have gone Rouge!! Thank you for standing up! But be careful of people who are call you out! There are all buddy’s and mean what they say!

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