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Wolf Trapping in Wood River Valley? Now’s Your Chance to Weigh In
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Thursday, February 18, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

A proposal to allow wolf trapping in Units 48 and 49 of the Wood River Valley is back on the table and public comment is being sought.

A similar proposal that would have allowed trappers to use traps and snares to target wolves in the Big Wood River and Little Wood River valleys was blocked in 2019. But Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners recently overruled Magic Valley Fish and Game Commissioner Greg Cameron’s recommendation that a trapping ban continue in Blaine County’s Units 48 and 49.

The proposal is controversial because of the high density of recreation in Blaine County--a child, a hiker, a pet dog or even a horse could unwittingly step into one of the traps. Idaho Sen. Michelle Stennett nearly lost her beloved golden retriever in January when the dog was caught in a trap sitting near a road in a popular recreation area.

Fish and Game Commissioners are taking public comment on the proposal to allow wolf trapping in Unit 48, which encompasses 389,791 acres or 609 square miles, and Unit 49, which encompasses 499,166 acres or 779.9 square miles, through Monday, Feb. 25.

Comments will be received by a departmental wildlife advisory group who will advise the commission for a final decision in late March.

The easiest way to review proposals is by visiting the big game proposals webpage at idfg.idaho.gov/big-game. Proposals are posted by region and separated by species within each region. An alternate way for the public to comment is Commission@idfg.idaho.gov

Written comments may be provided to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 324 South 417 East, Highway 93 Business Park, Jerome, ID 83338. The public will also have the opportunity to provide testimony to the commission on March 17 at IDFG Nampa Regional office.

Questions? Call Magic Valley Regional office at 208-324-4359.

Stennett, who nearly lost her golden retriever to a trap, has since done research comparing Idaho’s trapping and tourism industries. Idaho’s $3.7 billion tourism industry employs more than 45,800 Idahoans and generates $475 million in local, state and federal tax revenues. That is equivalent to saving every Idaho household $740 in taxes annually.

“By comparison, I would be curious to know how much revenue comes to the state from trapping,” she said.

Numbers wise, Idaho has about 2,000 registered trappers, yet state parks recorded 7.671 million visits in 2020.

“That’s more than 1.2 million more visitors than the previous record, set in 2019. So, why do we have so little protection from trapping for nearly 8 million visitors to our public lands?” she added.

In fact, most of the world has limited or even banned trapping, according to Living with Wolves. States that ban trapping include California, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington.

 Hailey resident Christine Gertschen said she and her dog Daisy were scared away from hiking one of their favorite trails in the Gooding Little City of Rocks area a week ago after spotting a “Traps in Area” sign.

“This is not right,” Gertschen said. “Traps and snares should not be allowed on public lands in Idaho. Traps and snares prevent multi-use of those lands.”

At least 173 dogs have been caught in traps and snares in Idaho since 2013 and several have died, according to Ketchum resident Garrick Dutcher’s Living with Wolves educational organization.

Wolf traps, which can be set just 10 feet from trails require specialized tools to release. One woman managed to release her dog from a trap only to have it spring shut on her arm. She had to hike, then drive, to a medical clinic to get it removed.

Hailey resident J.J. Spain questioned whether the act of placing a metal trap on the ground to catch an animal who has no prior warning that they are being “hunted” constitutes the ideals of sportsmanship.

“The beautiful land that comprises Idaho is OUR land,” she said. “It includes abundant wildlife to be enjoyed and treated humanely… However, the nature of traps and existing laws have endangered people's lives including our children, domestic pets and that of unintended wildlife, such as eagles, martens and fishers.  We, guests, tourists and new residents should not have to be fearful to go forth to enjoy a hike, bike ride, horseback ride or snowshoe on OUR public land! ”Videos demonstrating traps and how to release them are informative but fail to portray the trauma, pain and horror that the animals and people experience if caught in a trap, Spain said.

Any traps set on Idaho public lands should be identified with six-foot poles with fluorescent-colored flags visible from a distance, and they should be required to be more than 10 feet from trails and roads, she said. Victims should not be penalized for disassembling or moving a trap, and trappers should be liable for the medical expenses of people and pets.

In 2012 wolf trapping was limited to a quarter of the state but now nearly the entire state is open to it. Trappers are allowed to trap 30 wolves during a given season.

Trappers can earn between $500 and $1,000 for a trapping a wolf, but the monetary rewards can quickly diminish considering traps and other gear cost a couple thousand dollars. What’s more, driving or snowmobiling to check traps a few times a week can get spendy, as well.

Trappers and hunters take an average 300 wolves a year. Wildlife Services takes up to another hundred each year following reports of livestock depredations.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

A presentation on non-lethal deterrents for wolf management being used around the world will be livestreamed at the Idaho Chapter of The Wildlife Society of Idaho’s annual meeting Feb. 22-25.

Presenters will be Suzanne Asha Stone of the International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Sarah Michael of the Wood River Wolf Project and Garrick Dutcher of Living with Wolves.

To learn more, visit https://wildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/ICTWS-2021-Schedule-of-Events_website.pdf



 

 

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