The Nez Perce Tribe today notified Gov. Butch Otter that, in light of new bighorn sheep legislation sponsored this year by sheep producer Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, and signed into law by Otter, the tribe can no longer participate in the governor’s Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Collaborative. Samuel N. Penney, chairman of the tribal executive committee, said, “The Nez Perce Tribe is disappointed the state has suspended the collaborative process in favor of a legislated solution. We appreciated Governor Otter’s efforts to convene the Idaho Collaborative, but we are frustrated that Senator Siddoway’s legislation has undermined the Governor’s effort by legislating a political fix instead of allowing the collaborative process an opportunity to work.” He added, “Legislating wildlife management has never resulted in lasting solutions.”
Brooklyn Baptiste, vice chairman for the tribe, said, “I assume that Senator Siddoway did not see the value of collaborating with the Nez Perce Tribe or with Governor Otter to aid him in developing his legislation. As I understand it, Mr. Siddoway pushed this legislation through because he was concerned about the effects of introduced bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon on domestic sheep producers. However, his legislation doesn’t just target Hells Canyon. It protects all domestic sheep grazing at the expense of bighorn sheep in close proximity to their operations, including the Salmon River population, the last remnant native population in Idaho.”
Otter vetoed an earlier version of Siddoway’s legislation, but then accepted a modified version. He signed SB 1232a into law on May 7.