Politics and Wildlife

Wildlife can’t vote so we need to vote for candidates who will support and defend them and their homes.

Ads are popping up on my cell phone interrupting some very important games of Solitaire. Increasingly, the ads are for various political candidates. Although I close the ads without reading or responding, they keep showing up.

They finally got me thinking about politics and politicians though and I began to assess what I would like in a candidate, whether it be at the county level or all the way up to President of the United States.

Like many people, I would love to see a return to statesmanship, where political service is a sacrifice and a duty, not a career path or another way for self-aggrandizement and personal gain. These candidates would put the people above themselves and even above party lines. They are thoughtful, full of integrity and check personal biases at the door. They are without agenda other than to make this the best county, state or country they can.  I’ve known a few politicians over the years who met that mold and I know a few who could not get elected because of it.

This election I am looking for candidates for whom the natural world is as important as bottom lines and next election’s vote. They need to be committed to clean air and water, wild rivers and streams with guaranteed minimum flows and who don’t believe that open space is wasted space.

If they are avid outdoorsmen and women—hunters, fishermen, birdwatchers or more—so much the better. However, I will look carefully to see if they are wise enough to partner with wildlife and wildland professionals, not turn against them. I will look to see if in their hubris they think a lifetime with gun and rod qualifies them as experts. After all, 60 years of toilet use hasn’t made me a plumber.

I am searching for candidates who won’t sell out the environment for short-term gain. The environment belongs to all of us and we all pay the price when it is harmed so a few can profit. Decisions to dam another river, carve up a mountainside or tame a prairie should never be taken lightly and we should be well past the do-it-now-fix-it-later mentality of mitigating or “making up for” the losses in some other way.

 I want candidates who can carefully consider decisions and what their impact will be on future generations. My years on this planet are numbered but I already have grandsons and daughters who relish the outdoor life and with luck, before I am done here I will have great-grandsons and daughters and possibly even great-great grandsons and daughters who will be expecting to enjoy the same things we treasure today. I want those opportunities to still be here.

On a federal level, I wonder if there are candidates out there who will defend wildlife and wild places by finally demanding that Congress commit to fully endow the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This 50-year-old program is derived from receipts from off-shore oil drilling and should yield nearly a billion conservation dollars a year. It has never been funded even close to the extent promised and wildlife refuges, national parks, wildlife and wildlife legislation such as the North American Wetland Conservation Act have all suffered because of it.

I don’t know whether I am asking too much or not enough. All I know is that politicians and not biologists will determine the fate our country’s environment and wildlife now and in the future. I hope wildlife can find some champions out there somewhere.


Wildlife License Plates

Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.

No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.

Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.

Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program.

I think it is time we let the Legislature know that Idahoan support wildlife funding and that we would like to see these generic plates come to fruition.

"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson

That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.

Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.

Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.

Readers Write:

"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman

"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.

To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version 


Copies are also available at:

Post Register

Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)

Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls

Harriman State Park, Island Park

Museum of Idaho

Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming

Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah

Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho