An Idaho agency has become the biggest opponent of a plan to bring grizzly bears back to the state.
At the Idaho Fish and Game Commission's January meeting, Twin Falls member Fred Wood said that the group should tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it "flat-ass' opposes the agency's plan to release 25 bears into the Selway-Bitterroot area.
The commission voted 6-1 against the plan, which is expected to be released in draft form this spring. Steve Mealey, the newly hired director of the Idaho Fish and Game Department and a former grizzly bear researcher, told the commission he would try to block all efforts to restore grizzlies at the next meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. That group includes the Park Service, Forest Service and state game and fish officials.
Mealey's opposition surprised some conservationists, labor and the timber industry. They'd been meeting for the past four years to find common ground on a plan to release the grizzlies over five years to central Idaho's roadless areas.
"It's astonishing that one of Mealey's first orders of business is to oppose a major conservation program," says Mike Ray, a wildlife biologist with the National Wildlife Federation. Not all conservationists were taken aback. As a supervisor of the Boise National Forest, Mealey became widely known for promoting aggressive logging in the name of improving forest health.
" John Rosapepe,