Sunday, April 27, 2014

Shoot a Poacher, Save a Wolf

Idaho conservation officials say poachers almost certainly kill more wildlife in the state than wolves do.

Yet, poachers continue to get the big wink from state legislators, with anti-poaching law enforcement put on a starvation budget, and relatively low fines levied on those few who are caught.

Fish and Game officer Barry Cummings, notes that if wolves killed as many deer, elk and other wildlife as poachers did, Idaho citizens would be howling and manning the ramparts:

We would be setting budgets aside. We would develop a group... and we would develop a plan to deal with it. But we won’t even talk about what impact (poaching) has on wildlife.

A few numbers:  Idaho covers 84,000 square miles, but has only 104 Fish and Game officers, which means every conservation officer in the state is responsible for patrolling nearly 1,100 square miles.

Clearly, that's an impossible task and not really happening.

So what could happen?

Well, for one thing, Idaho could do a much better job of rewarding folks who turn in poachers. While Idaho has a web form you can fill out, and a phone number you can call, there is no reward mentioned.

Since shooting animals out of season and without license is fully incentivized (Catch me if you can!) and integrity is NOT incentivized (a $100 award might be offered a tipster) guess which one the state gets more of?

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