Missing the old Fish and Game guys

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There used to be a day living in Lewiston when I felt a heartfelt reverence and gratitude toward all of our Fish and Game wardens. Lewiston and Clarkston, being a border town, produced great men on both sides of the line. You could count on them for their concern and their veracity toward helping any and all wildlife in any and all situations. The F&G were a presence in the forest at all times.

Game wardens like Mel Headberg from Grangeville, Ken Woltering and Doug Stiffarm come to mind. They were only a phone call away, always eager to assist in whatever wildlife crisis should arise.

Outdoor Idaho (PBS) had a great presentation of the F&G rescuing mountain lion kittens (whose mother had been shot), rehabilitating them and then assisting in letting them back into the wild. It gave you that old warm and fuzzy feeling of doing the right thing for wildlife — as it should always be.

Newsflash: Those days are gone!

Several days ago in my travels of hunting with my dogs (I chase but never kill anything), I stumbled upon two orphaned female mountain lion kittens. The tracks told the story: Their mother had been shot and they were desperately trying to survive on their own. It breaks my heart because I know they are struggling and will eventually die without help.

I contacted the F&G. I offered assistance to tree them again and take them to wherever they needed to go to survive the winter. I visualized them getting the help they needed and eventually being released back into the wild. (There actually are places and people who will rehabilitate them.)

I was told that we have enough lions and we should just “let nature take its course.” This comes from F&G commissioner Brad Corkill and Craig Walker of the F&G in Cd’A. I argued that this isn’t the natural course when their current rules allow the killing of female mountain lions to interrupt that so-called natural course. But this is their policy and they are sticking to it. Not up for discussion. Unfortunately, this is legal.

The Fish and Game Rule Book on mountain lion kills says female lions cannot be shot if they have young kittens with spots. After the spots are gone, all mothers and kittens are fair game. This is an oxymoron rule and here are the reasons why.

Female lions can have kittens year-round.

When kittens are born with their spots, they tend to stay in one area while the mother hunts. She will bring them food and eventually when they are older, she will take them to the food, but 99 times out of 100, you will never see the kittens with the mother until they are much older. This is why there are so many orphans.

She will teach the kittens to hunt and how to be a lion for the next two years, but after they lose their spots (around 4 months old) they are all fair game. In this situation, three valuable females will end up dead — due only to this old, standby, draconian rule.

It is a stark contrast to Idaho’s Fish and Game creed, which states, “The Idaho Fish and Game will preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage all wildlife to provide for the citizens of Idaho the continued supply of such wildlife.”

This true story explains it well:

Two men were walking on the beach and noticed some starfish washed up on the sand. One man started picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. As he held one of the starfish in his hand, the other man asked, “Why are you throwing all of them back? There’s so many; so why does it matter?”

The other man replied looking at the starfish, “It matters to him” as he threw him back into the ocean.

We want a Fish and Game where all wildlife “still matters” again, not just the shiny new pickups, the new buildings and posh wallpaper that appear to have clouded their purpose. I don’t have a problem with them having these things, but I do have a problem if we lose sight of what’s important. We pay this organization to live by their creed, and I don’t see that happening.

Please contact F&G Commissioner Brad Corkill with these concerns. Leave a message at 208-682-4602. It’s the first step toward making a difference.

•••

Bonnie Brown is a Benewah County resident.

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