Thank you to all the ICL members, river runners, river outfitters, guides, fishermen, wildlife enthusiasts and others who submitted comments in support of river otters last month. The Fish and Game Commission was considering a proposal to open river otter trapping along the Payette, Snake, Clearwater and Salmon Rivers. These are special waterways where people have enjoyed seeing river otters and where river otters have been managed for wildlife viewing for decades. Out of the 510 public comments received, 93% spoke out against this proposal.
Last night, ICL’s Public Lands Director went to the new Fish and Game Headquarters, spoke to the Commission and explained why ICL and so many others oppose this proposal. We believe that river otters in these special rivers have more value delighting people than being trapped and removed for $25 per pelt.
Unfortunately, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decided to open these formerly closed rivers to river otter trapping. While hopefully river otters will still be seen in these rivers, there will be fewer opportunities for folks to have memorable encounters with river otters. This is a regrettable decision from a larger conservation perspective. Decisions like these tend to alienate large swaths of the public, just at a time when Fish and Game needs more volunteers, partners, and supporters than ever before to accomplish their mission. Fish and Game’s own strategic plan calls for the following: “Increase opportunities for wildlife viewing and appreciation.” River otters in these special rivers are the best ambassadors Fish and Game can ask for in terms of building public awareness of our wildlife heritage.
Idahoans should continue to speak up to ensure that Idaho’s wildlife are protected and properly managed.
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