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Idaho Conservation Groups Raise Awareness on World Wildlife Day

Today is World Wildlife Day, and conservation groups are promoting measures to conserve habitat by fighting the transfer of public lands to state control. (sgarton/morguefile)
Today is World Wildlife Day, and conservation groups are promoting measures to conserve habitat by fighting the transfer of public lands to state control. (sgarton/morguefile)
March 3, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - Today, March 3, is annual World Wildlife Day and this year, conservation advocates in Idaho are taking the opportunity to speak out on issues that most affect wildlife in the Gem State.

They are particularly concerned about the movement to transfer federal public land to state control, because the state could then sell the land to private interests that might not respect animal habitat or public access.

On Monday, Idaho's House and Senate Committees on Resources and the Environment heard a presentation by an attorney working with Utah legislators, asking that Idaho pay $7 million in taxpayer money to join Utah in suing the Obama administration for control of federal public lands.

Brian Brooks, sportsmen coordinator for the Idaho Wildlife Federation, believes that's unconstitutional.

"In order to be in the union, they relinquished all lands not in possession by private citizens or by the state to the federal government," says Brooks. "That's in the Idaho state Constitution; the property clause is in the federal Constitution – and they didn't mention exactly how they're going to get around that."

Conservation groups also are concerned about a land-transfer bill introduced last year by Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador. The Sufficient Community Lands Act had a hearing in the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands last week.

Brooks is also monitoring a bill in the state Legislature to force the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to give out tags that allow trophy hunting of certain big game each year, taking away the agency's discretion in the matter.

"They're trying to change the language to 'shall,' so that the Fish and Game Commission 'shall' give these tags out," he says, "regardless of the science, and regardless of public input."

Brooks notes that some trophy tags are very valuable, and the right to hunt can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID