Saturday, August 09, 2008

State of Idaho will pay for Rammell's elk

Back when Jim Risch was Lt. Governor, he ordered that elk escaped from Rex Rammell's elk pen be shot. Risch was concerned about the elk spreading disease or genetic inferiority into the local wild elk herds. The decision spurred Rammel to run against Risch for the senate. This is all old news, of course.

In February of this year, Rammell sued Risch and the State of Idaho in Fremont County district court for the value of his elk that were killed. Not a lot of substantive action so far, but lots of wrangling over changing venue and getting a different judge.

I recently spoke to an attorney who is in the know, and he thinks that Rammell is going to win.

Reason: the elk were private property, destroyed by state action. If mad cow disease or brucellocis was found in a cattle herd, or bird flu in a flock of chickens, or whatever, the state can have the animals destroyed as a matter of public health. But, like any state taking of property, the owner must be compensated. If the state takes some land from you for a road it pays market value for it. Same deal with Rammell's elk.

Some of the elk can be valued at as much as $10,000. Given the procedural struggles, I doubt that the case will resolve before the election. Mitchell Brown of the Pocatello firm Racine, Olson, Nye, Budge & Bailey has been appointed as a special attorney general to represent the state. Not sure why one of Wasden's Deputies isn't handling the case, but using private counsel will be expensive, in addition to the value of the elk.


Tara A. Rowe said...

This lawyer, Mitch Brown, was just appointed to a judicial position by Governor Otter. I can't seem to remember what the position is, but I remember it was south of here (Pocatello), maybe Bear Lake County. Do you know anything about this? Seems odd that both these moves happened around the same time.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Maybe I could google before I comment:

The ISJ says Otter appointed Brown to the 6th Judicial District.

Brown story here

alan said...

I 'spect his firm will continue on with the case even if he's gone.

untamedshrew said...

Where did Rammel get the elk to begin with I wonder? How does one begin an elk "ranch" or whatever the heck he calls it?

Sisyphus said...

Yeah Alan, I thought this might be a good claim as well. But I gotta think there are some good defenses. For example, it strikes me that this was actually caused by Rammell for keeping an inadequate enclosure. In addition, there is probably a public policy exception when the state is seeking to act on behalf of public safety. I don't think it will be a slam dunk.

Your shrewness, I believe he has family money which he applied to this endeavor. He seems to have no shortage of funds having loaned his campaign a quarter million and judging by the massive bus he's driving. He's a vet and had the family ranch. I suspect he put all to good use, for tax purposes mind you.

untamedshrew said...

I was wondering where he got the elk to begin with. Did he entrap them? Did he purchase them? From whom? Wild elk are a state resource, correct?

Sisyphus said...

I'm working from my very feeble memory but as I recall, one of the issues with these elk is that they were of a different genetic strain than Idaho's wild elk. Something known as a red elk he acquired from elsewhere. They are prized for their size. But I recall they didn't want them interbreeding with Idaho's herd.

alan said...

I think that Rammell purchased elk that had been cross-bred with Red Deer to increase the antler size. He denied the cross-breading and said they presented no genetic threat. I think there was still some question about his source for the elk and whether cross-breeding had occurred.