Anyone with an interest in wildlife in Idaho is encouraged to participate in the Idaho Wildlife Summit August 24, 25 and 26.
The Summit will convene at the Riverside Hotel in Boise and six concurrent satellite sites in Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Twin Falls, Pocatello, Idaho Falls and Salmon. People may participate online if they are unable to attend in person.
The Summit is a landmark event for wildlife conservation in Idaho. It is the most far-reaching undertaking the agency has attempted, in terms of encouraging all wildlife enthusiasts to participate and the technologies being used to engage them.
Idaho Fish and Game hopes to gain a better understanding of what is important to people in terms of the future of wildlife. One way for participants to express that is through an "Idaho CafŽ" on Saturday afternoon.
The Idaho CafŽ is a structured discussion, in which participants will be able to exchange ideas. They will gather in a cafŽ-like setting with four people around a small table to discuss a specific question and record their thoughts.
After about a half hour, three people at each table will move to different tables; one will stay. The process then repeats with a new question.
Participants will get through five questions in about 2 1/2 hours.
Participants also may share their opinions in several "Fishing Polls" - a simple electronic poll also known as a clicker poll - with instant or nearly instant results. At several times during the Summit, participants will be asked to respond to survey questions by using any electronic device that has texting capability, such as a cell phone, a smart phone or a home computer.
The event also will include opportunities for participants to learn about the challenges facing wildlife conservation through presentations by several experts and through "Trading Posts."
"Trading Posts" are information booths staffed by Fish and Game employees to answer questions and to highlight the breadth of what Fish and Game does to manage all Idaho wildlife. They will be open throughout the Summit weekend.
Among the experts to speak at the Summit is Shane Mahoney, an internationally recognized wildlife researcher, conservationist, hunter and speaker. Many call Mahoney a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt, who is considered to be the father of modern wildlife conservation.
Idaho's population has tripled since a voters' initiative 74 years ago established the way Fish and Game manages wildlife today. The challenges to wildlife have changed since 1938 as well, including increasing habitat loss, declining populations of sage-grouse and bull trout and more competition for available water.
Though Idaho boasts a strong hunting and fishing culture, the revenue from license and tag fees is not enough to keep up with increasing demands on the agency that manages the state's broad spectrum of fish and wildlife.
Fish and Game Commission Chairman Randy Budge recently said the agency "soon may approach a crossroads É when tough decisions have to be made."
Seating is limited at the seven sites, so participants must register to reserve a spot. Though registration is free, Fish and Game would accept any donations to help offset the costs for providing meals and beverages.
For more about the Idaho Wildlife Summit or to register go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/summit/.