More than 3,000 people joined the Idaho Wildlife Summit online this weekend and they weren’t just from Idaho.
Several hundred people attended the Boise session each of three days and large attendance was reported around the state as well for the summit that was organized to bring together people with diverse views about wildlife. The major wildlife groups such as the Safari Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others were in attendance in force. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and Western Watersheds were among the environmental group represented, including the Nature Conservancy, whose Executive Director Toni Hardesty was one of the speakers.
People who attended said the major challenge was that most of the people at the meetings were older white males, the largest group of Fish and Game’s traditional constituency,hunters. But like the polls the agency conducted before the meeting showed of Idahoans statewide, there was overwhelming support to expand the base for funding fish and wildlife management in Idaho.
“It went better than I could have expected,” Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. “I am encouraged that such a diverse group expressed such a strong consensus on conservation values.”
There was very little sign of the polarization that has split wildlife groups over wolves and other controversial issues.
Shane Mahoney of Newfoundland, Canada, a featured speaker, praised Fish and Game for taking on the challenge.
“I’d much sooner have a world filled with people who are so vitally concerned with wildlife that they fight all the time about it, than a world in which nobody gives a damn,” Mahoney said.
More than 800 people had signed up to participate. Many others participated online; more than 3,000 logged on the Internet to watch the streaming video. People logged in from across the United States and the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Hungary.
Over the next few days and weeks, staff members will comments, the video tape of the event and the polls to determine where to go next.