by Andrew Crisp
The state's right to shoot escaped elk from an eastern Idaho hunting farm was upheld on Sept. 14, to the chagrin of Rex Rammell.
The Idaho Supreme Court ruled against the former eastern Idaho elk rancher and political gadfly in the case of a shoot-to-kill order issued to remove elk that escaped Rammell's Chief Joseph elk preserve near Yellowstone National Park in 2006.
The court's unanimous decision upheld the previous 4th District Court ruling, which concluded that the state was justified in taking action to remove the more than 100 head of elk to protect wild elk herds from any disease the farm elk may be carrying, as well as to preserve genetic lines if Rammell's elk were hybrids. The escaped elk had been on the loose for more than 30 days. Idaho law allows a seven-day grace period for ranchers to recapture their animals.
The Rammell ranch eventually recaptured nearly 60 elk after hunters killed 43. Rammell's lawyers contested that the state had abused the seven-day law, but the court felt otherwise.
As an unsuccessful former candidate for Idaho governor and the Idaho Legislature, Rammell attempted to use the wildlife controversy as a talking point in his campaigns. In 2008, Rammell ran against then-Gov. Jim Risch for a U.S. Senate seat, and was ultimately unsuccessful. As governor in 2006, Risch gave the shoot-to-kill order.
He also lost a 2010 bid for governor, and a 2012 GOP primary in Idaho County, before moving to Torrington, Wyo., to work as a vet at the Torrington Livestock Auction.
Rammell was previously accused by officials from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of killing a cow elk in the wrong hunting zone, and he later plead guilty to criminal contempt for handing out fliers outside the Bonneville County Courthouse. He also famously joked Idaho should sell "Obama tags" to hunters.