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Eye On Boise

TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2011, 12:16 P.M.

Hart’s wolf bill sent off for fixes

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, asks the House Resources & Conservation Committee on Monday to send his wolf bill, HB 274, to the House's amending order, after admitting the measure
Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, asks the House Resources & Conservation Committee on Monday to send his wolf bill, HB 274, to the House's amending order, after admitting the measure "probably needs to be worked on some more." The bill, HB 274, would prohibit state or local government employees from assisting "in any way" with wolf management or enforcement. (Betsy Russell)

Rep. Phil Hart's bill to ban any state or local government employee from assisting "in any way" with wolf management or enforcement ran into problems yesterday in the House Resources & Conservation Committee, but the panel agreed, at Hart's request, to send HB 274 to the amending order in the full House for fixes. "It probably needs to be worked on some more," Hart told the panel. "It could be more clear, I agree."

Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, noted that the bill as written would prevent the state from doing its annual count of how many wolves are in the state, "so that we continue to know what kind of a menace we have in population and size." Sharon Kiefer of the Idaho Fish & Game Department said the bill, as written, would penalize Fish & Game employees for referring wolf issues to federal authorities, which is their current procedure under the governor's order to turn wolf management back over to the feds. A Fish & Game receptionist would be penalized under the bill for referring a caller to the Fish & Wildlife Service. "That lady at the front desk, now you make her into a defendant," Kiefer told the committee.

Bill London, speaking for the association of Idaho conservation officers, said, "It would make the officer a defendant and subject them to penalties for forwarding the information," even when their code of ethics would require forwarding it, or when failing to pass along evidence provided to the officer to the appropriate authority would constitute evidence tampering.  Hart said he thought his bill covered all that by allowing state workers to do those things on their time off, but said, "I didn't anticipate that a receptionist who's on the state's clock would get a phone call on the state's time."

Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, told Hart she'd support the move to the amending order "in the hope that in your diplomatic role you can come to some terms on this particular issue, but I will tell you right now ... maybe there's an ethical thing here, but as far as I'm concerned here it's tattling, and I don't think we need to tattle to the federal government."




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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