Wildlife advocates stand firm
Despite pressure from Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus not to testify against the proposed Owyhee Canyon bombing range, both the Idaho Fish and Game Department and its appointed commission came out against it (HCN, 1/24/94). At a recent public hearing, department representatives opposed the northern portion of the bombing range, saying it seriously threatens the protection of numerous species including antelope that fawn directly under a proposed target. Afterwards, Andrus told an Idaho Press Club luncheon that the agency had damaged the Owyhee Canyon far more than a bombing range ever would. "Fish and Game Commission gave 6,603 licenses ... for people to go down there with four-wheel-drive pick-up trucks and chase through that whole area, to go down into that area with live ammunition in their rifles and kill and wound and chase those same critters they say they don't want harassed by airplanes flying overhead." Owyhee Canyonlands Coalition spokesperson Craig Gehrke said Andrus is wrong. The state agency has no legal jurisdiction to issue permits for four-wheel-drive vehicles, he said, and it only issued 488 hunting tags for the proposed northern bombing range. Gehrke said Andrus is "taking Fish and Game to task for doing what they're supposed to do."