“When I was young, I would have never envisioned that we’d be in a position like we’re in now,” said Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, in rural Jefferson County. “I’ve seen the evolution throughout the years and we’ve tried to fight back as an industry and as individuals to turn the ebb back, but we certainly have not been able to do that.”
In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Siddoway described how a business that has been in his family for 127 years spanning five generations is now threatened by gray wolves, which are officially regarded by the U.S. federal government as an endangered species.
“Because of those federal rules and regulations, it just puts the anxiety level way up over the top,” he said. According to him, the Siddoway Sheep Company has lost an average of between $30,000 and $50,000 a year for the past several years rendering his business unprofitable. He said that his company recently sustained an attack of gray wolves that led to the deaths of 176 lambs and ewes when they were stampeded over a cliff.
Officials with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report the majority of the sheep suffocated. A number of others died while being trampled in trying to escape. According to the USDA, fewer than 10 were bitten and only one was partially consumed. Each sheep was valued at $200, thus making the loss to the Siddoway ranch approximately $35,000.
“When you’ve had an attack by wolves, you don’t know if they’re coming back the next night,” Siddoway commented.
Siddoway’s concerns come at a strategic time. Earlier this year the Idaho Legislature voted to begin a process of investigating whether Idaho should seek to take control of the roughly 63 percent of the state that is currently under federal control. If the state were to obtain control of the lands, it could then more effectively control the populations of wolves and protect farm and ranching animals more effectively, some legislators said in supporting a pair of resolutions aimed at the state taking control of the federal lands in Idaho.
Noting that an interim committee of legislators has been considering how the state might move forward with the idea, Siddoway acknowledged that there are unknowns involved with the prospect of Idaho controlling the federal lands, but he nonetheless supports the idea.
“I’m supportive of that,” he told IdahoReporter.com. “I know there are a lot of unanswered questions there, but I truly believe that if Idaho had control of its lands we would be much more productive and we would ultimately end up making money and saving money in the long run.”
A complete discussion with Siddoway can be heard HERE.