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Eye On Boise

Senate Ag rejects loosening elk-import restrictions, on 5-4 vote

The Senate Agriculture Committee has voted 5-4 to reject a rule change easing restrictions on importation of farmed elk into the state that brought warnings from state Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore of potential catastrophic impacts to Idaho’s wildlife herds. “We just need to be cautious, at this point, I think,” said Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, who made the motion.

Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, who supported the rule change, said, “You have to realize there’s risk with everything. I walked up to the Capitol today and could have been hit by a car or shot. … I guess I don’t really feel that we’re going to lose our wildlife, that this is something that’s going to take over and kill our elk herds. I don’t want to risk that, but like I say, there’s always some risk.”

Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, said, “With all our industries, I think we need to be looking at ways to reduce regulation in a meaningful way.” But, she said, “That means balancing the needs of our industries with the other benefits that we have in our state, like our wildlife. I think those are important things to weigh, and I don’t think any of us take that lightly.”

The House Agriculture Committee had previously approved the rule, then reconsidered and locked up in a tie in a move that raised questions about whether proper parliamentary procedures had been followed; House Ag Chairman Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, said last week that he’d wait until after the Senate committee voted to decide whether his panel would take the rule up again. It was sought by Idaho elk ranchers.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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