If the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has its way you are going to hear alot abou the Idaho Wildlife Summit between now and Aug. 24.
The three day event, which will be head at the Riverside Hotel in Boise and six concurrent satellite sites in Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Salmon, Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls, is designed to involve as many people as possible in developing a plan for wildlife management in the future.
The aim of the event, Fish and Game says is to bring together diverse interests to find common ground, and ultimately build a broader base of support for wildlife conservation. Without it frankly funding for wildlife in the state is certain to drop.
The federal funds that now support a lot of what Idaho Fish and Game does, are likely to stop growing or decline, Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said.
“The responsibility for meeting the needs in Idaho are going to fall more squarely and appropriately on the shoulders of Idahoans and the people who use the resources in Idaho,” Moore said.
Gov. Butch Otter will be there along with Shane Mahoney, a biologist and prominent spokesman for wildlife conservation from Newfoundland in eastern Canada; Toni Hardesty, a former director of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and now director for The Nature Conservancy-Idaho; and by Jim Posewitz, founder of Orion The Hunter’s Institute.
The agency has a tall order. Wildlife politics have never been more polarized in the state since the comeback of wolves.
Hunters have resisted seeking funding from the wider and much more diverse group of wildlife enthusiasts because they fear losing control. But hunter numbers are dropping because this same group of hunters has not done enough to bring the next generations into their sport. The bright spot is the increasing number of women.
Anglers are more united as the old divisions between bait fishers and fly fishers has subsided. But without federal dollars protecting the species they love will be harder and require new state funding sources.
“The Wildlife Summit provides wildlife advocates a unique opportunity to hear from top wildlife authorities and to help set the stage for the future of wildlife management in Idaho,” said Randy Budge, Idaho Fish and Game Commission chairman-elect.
You will see a lot of Moore and Budge in the ext two months. They will discuss the Summit on Idaho Public Television’s call-in Dialogue program on June 14.