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Wildlife management plan likely to pass by resolution

Daily Inter Lake | April 27, 2021 7:00 AM

After much consideration, Libby City Council likely will adopt its proposed wildlife management plan by resolution rather than codify it as an ordinance.

The plan, which addresses the city’s deer population to start, lays out how local and state officials will cooperate going forward. Officials opted to tackle deer first because of the high prevalence of chronic wasting disease within city limits.

Though fewer animals tested for the disease came back positive this year, in 2020 officials estimated that 13 out of every 100 of the animals within city limits were infected.

In the works for more than a year, the plan hit a speed bump in recent months as city councilors prepared for adoption. The sticking point? Whether it should remain a plan (passed as a resolution) or go into city code (adopted as an ordinance).

Looking over the document a few weeks ago, City Attorney Dean Chisholm said he saw elements of both in the language. An ordinance, generally speaking, carries the weight of law, enforced in municipal court. Conversely, a resolution is a statement of policy.

City leaders initially were split on the issue. Mayor Brent Teske said that, after years of watching plans get shelved and collect dust, he preferred an ordinance. City councilors Kristin Smith and Peggy Williams voiced support for a resolution.

Ultimately, members of the committee originally tasked with crafting the plan agreed to work with Chisholm and FWP personnel to determine the best way forward. On April 19, City Councilor Hugh Taylor said the parties had opted to pursue adoption by resolution.

“We just need to do whatever steps we need to do to pass a resolution,” Taylor told his colleagues.

City councilors praised Chisholm’s edits to the documents, saying the cleaned up copy read much more clearly.

“What I recommend is that the plan, if it fits with everybody's expectations, be adopted by a resolution,” Chisholm said. “We won’t turn it into a resolution; we will do a simple resolution.”

That will allow officials to update the document as needs arise. Officials have indicated they plan to tackle the city’s wild turkey population and a burgeoning number of rabbits in the near future.

“I know I’ve been taking some calls about rabbits lately,” Teske said. “We may need to address rabbits and turkeys soon.”

City councilors did not take any action on the plan April 19, but will likely move on the proposal at the panel’s next meeting.