The Idaho Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this morning in Rex Rammell's appeal over the shooting of his escaped domestic elk; you can listen live here. Rammell sued the state, then-Gov. Jim Risch and Idaho Fish & Game over the incident. Rammell's lawyer just told the justices that he doesn't believe Idaho law permits "the destruction of domestic elk simply for being out of the confines of the ranch for seven days."
"Doesn't Fish & Game have the authority to issue emergency depredation hunts when situations arise?" asked Justice Jim Jones. Rammell's attorney, Patrick Furey, said there was no evidence the elk were diseased or a threat to the state's wild elk herds. "There was nothing at all about these elk to distinguish them as escapees from a neighbor's cattle herd that got out. ... This wasn't a case of velociraptors escaping from Jurassic Park."
"You can't just proclaim to go destroy private property, you've got to have a reason," Furey told the justices. Justice Daniel Eismann said the state law doesn't talk about disease. "The statute talks about ... domestic cervidae that have been escaped for more than seven days." Justice Joel Horton noted that the state law extends immunity both to licensed hunters and to state agencies for shooting escaped domestic elk that are in the wild more than seven days. Furey said he thought that law "was intended only to immunize the hunter, and not to authorize what was done here."
The state's attorney, Mike Kelly, told the justices the issue is narrowly defined: Interpretation of the state law. "Gov. Risch had the authority to issue that executive order," he said. "Gov. Risch didn't issue that order until 26 days after the escape."