National news outlets have recently taken an interest in Idaho’s prohibition on elective abortions. It’s not surprising, but it is further proof that the radicalization of our state is being coordinated by far-away organizations and out-of-state money.
Idaho’s prohibition on elective abortions went into effect after the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In that case, the Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution does not contain an explicit or implied right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
The Supreme Court’s decision reversed a decades-long limitation on states’ ability to legislate sensible and appropriate limitations on terminating a pregnancy. Under the old law, unborn babies could be killed for reasons unrelated to health, including the financial “burden” a baby might impose on a family.
The Dobbs decision enabled Idaho’s lawmakers to craft a sensible legislative framework for protecting the lives of the unborn and the wellbeing of pregnant women. Idaho’s legislative framework expressed the moral imperative that our law protects all human beings, regardless of their age. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld Idaho’s prohibition on elective abortions in light of that moral framework.
Idaho’s neighbors to the west decided to go in a different direction, loosening any semblance of protection for the unborn. The result? 1-in-4 abortions in California are now performed for sex selection reasons — meaning a human life is ended because the developing baby is the “wrong” sex. In Oregon and Washington, minor children, including victims of domestic sex abuse or sex trafficking, can be made to receive an abortion without notification to a parent — allowing instances of rape or abuse to be obscured from families and law enforcement. In fact, neither state requires parental involvement at all before a minor obtains an abortion.
These States were free to pursue this legal and policy course, just as Idaho is free to pursue a pathway that protects the unborn and ensures that the wellbeing of pregnant women is prioritized.
Abortion has been — and is likely to remain — a divisive civic topic. But Idaho’s people and legislators have enacted a framework that works for our families and embodies our commitments to the unborn. The national news apparatus, however, is creating a false narrative to start laying the groundwork to attract money and operatives into our state to undermine our laws and fool our citizens.
Real work must be done by the Republican Party, by legislators, and the organizations dedicated to defending life to educate citizens about their rights and the full implications of the post-Dobbs world. Gone are the days when organizations committed to life can merely walk the hallways of the Capitol and court the votes of legislators. The law has been written and enacted. Our contest now is to inform Idaho’s citizenry and truly build a culture of life.
Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon issued the above guest column that first published in the Times-News, and now will be published in other media outlets around Idaho.
(Department of Education Press Release, March 24, 2023)
BOISE–Idaho elementary schools interested in expanding the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to students will have the chance to participate in the USDA’s 2024 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).
The program is administrated by Child Nutrition Programs through the State Department of Education. To be eligible for the FFVP, schools must meet the following criteria:
Must be an elementary school (grades 1 through 6);
operate the National School Lunch Program;
have more than 50 percent of enrolled students eligible for free and reduced priced meals; and
submit a complete application, including a signed Certificate of Support.
Successful applicants will be awarded grants to administer the FFVP from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024. Schools will be awarded $50 to $75 per student for the school year to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables for the program. All grant awards are contingent on available USDA funds.
Schools who participate in the program will make fresh fruit and vegetables available to students during the school day at no cost to the student. The program’s goal is to offer students a chance to eat fruits and vegetables that they wouldn’t otherwise have ready access to.
For more information on Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program requirements or to find a copy of the FFVP grant application and Certificate of Support document, visit https://www.sde.idaho.gov/events/awards-grants.html#grants or call the State Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs at 208-332-6821. FFVP applications must be received by Friday, May 12, 2023.
A comprehensive, scientific process made clear dam breaching on the lower Snake River is completely unnecessary and unwarranted. I’ve said this many times before, and I will keep saying it until that sinks in.
To protect the operations of the entire Columbia River Power System from both this administration’s pseudoscience and activist litigation, I introduced legislation that would ensure the lower Snake River dams —and the rest of the hydropower infrastructure on the Columbia River — can continue to provide reliable and clean energy and support the region’s transportation, agriculture, and irrigation needs long into the future.
March 25, 2023 (Cover Image Credit: Bannock County)
Pocatello–Starting next week, area residents can once again dispose of household hazardous waste for free at the Fort Hall Mine Landfill just south of Pocatello. Bannock County Public Works has created a Facebook event to raise awareness of the monthly disposal date. The event notes read:
Dispose of your Household Hazardous Waste for FREE at the Fort Hall Mine Landfill on the first Saturday of the month from April to October.
Are there old, dangerous chemicals lurking in your garage or cabinets? Now is the time to clean them out!
The Fort Hall Mine Landfill will collect Household Hazardous Waste for FREE on the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Bannock County residents can bring their waste to the landfill’s household hazardous waste building for drop-off, or they will be directed by employees who remove the waste from the vehicles.
Make the right choice and dispose of your hazardous waste properly, and help us keep our aquifer and environment safe and clean.
Once upon a time there was a peaceful town that was a true American melting pot; a cross section of races, religions, heritages and interests. Everybody, for the most part, got along with each other and was friendly to both neighbors and strangers. It was a good place to live.
The town had one unusual quirk. Most of the people wore green shirts, but one in five people wore a yellow shirt. Whether by tradition or habit, people wore the same color shirt worn by their fathers. Nobody remembers why because nobody really noticed.
A person wearing a yellow shirt was just as likely to be a man or a woman, a doctor or a lawyer, a carpenter or a pharmacist as a person wearing a green shirt. For every 1000 people who wore a green or yellow shirt there was an excellent doctor, two good doctors, 5 average doctors and one bad doctor. The same was true for people in other professions like shopkeeper, cook, mechanic, or lawyer. The color of the shirt gave no indication of how good you were at your job.
Because there were four people who wore green shirts for every one person who wore a yellow shirt, if you put all the town’s five star rated doctors in a room, four of five would have green shirts and one in five would have a yellow shirt, because math.
One day a man named Tony came to town. He was an observant and fair man who wanted to see the town where everyone got along. As he toured the town, visiting the shops and restaurants, meeting the people, and attending events, he was very pleased at how friendly and fair minded people seemed to be. But soon he noticed the shirts.
He was having breakfast and saw that of the ten employees, only two wore yellow shirts. When he went to the grocery store there were five clerks and only one had a yellow shirt, the rest wore green. He asked a few people about the shirts but nobody could give him an answer. It was as if people had not noticed.
Tony cherished fairness and equality so was shocked that this otherwise nearly perfect town had a flaw; the people wearing the yellow shirts were not equally represented. He decided to fix this problem.
He went around town and for every yellow shirted person he came across he would explain how the green shirts were being unfair and how the yellow shirts were being oppressed. Most people simply smiled at Tony and went on their way but a few liked what Tony was saying. Tony formed a club of yellow shirted people who agreed that there was a problem that needed fixing.
The plan was simple. Tony bought some heart shaped stickers and then he and his club would visit the businesses in town and explain the problem. He would then strongly suggest that the business hire more yellow shirts so they would be more equal. If they pledged to do this, Tony would put a heart on their window so that everyone could see the business’s commitment to equality.
Most business agreed to Tony’s demands, and so more and more people would see the heart on the windows. Soon all the help wanted signs and advertisements would list “Must have yellow shirt” as the first requirement before listing the type of job or the experience needed.
Remember that there were only a quarter as many people in town who wore yellow shirts as those who wore green shirts, but that did not seem to matter to Tony who insisted on equality as the only fair thing to have.
One of the fire departments was to first to have a problem. They needed a qualified yellow shirted fireman, but there were none in town because they all already had jobs. There were plenty of qualified green shirts, but hiring them wouldn’t be equal so the fire department lowered the qualifications needed so they could meet Tony’s yellow shirt quota.
Of course the qualified firemen who happened to wear green shirts had to find other jobs doing things they weren’t very good at doing, if they could find work at all.
Business after business had this same problem with supply because there were too few yellow shirts to satisfy the demand. Meanwhile the unemployment office was full of green shirted applicants.
Customer satisfaction dropped because some employees were not fully qualified. One bank went out of business because the yellow shirted manager was formerly a car salesman and had never run a bank before.
People started to notice shirt color. People with green shirts started to resent the yellow shirts but if they said anything Tony and his club would call them a “Shirtest!” and accuse them of being bigots who were against equality. People became afraid to say the truth. People became suspicious of other people’s motives. People began to cluster by shirt color. People began to miss their old town.
Then one day the child of one of the green shirt founding families came down to breakfast wearing a yellow shirt. “I identify as yellow” said the child…but that is another story.
Sometimes fixing the problem is worse than the problem, especially when there isn’t really a problem at all.
The multi-Platinum hitmaker Jon Pardi is performing at the Portneuf Health Trust Amphitheatre on May 27.
Pardi is bringing fan-favorite hits like “Dirt On My Boots,” plus new music from his red-hot new release, Mr. Saturday Night, to Pocatello to kick off Memorial Day weekend. The CMA and ACM award-winning singer/songwriter/producer embraces western swing, breezy California midtempos, and bar-room shuffles that are sure to get any crowd dancing.
Catch Jon Pardi in Pocatello on Saturday, May 27, sponsored by Idaho Central Credit Union.
General tickets go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 24 at bannockcountyeventcenter.us or at jonpardi.com. Gates open at 5 p.m. with Jon Pardi scheduled to take the stage at 7 p.m.
More acts will be announced for the Amphitheatre’s 2023 Summer Concerts in the coming weeks. Be the first to know when artists are announced by signing up for our email list at bannockcountyeventcenter.us.
PragerU has released a new video, entitled, “How to Make Our Cities Safer.”
The video description reads, “Crime has become a major issue in America again. People don’t feel safe, and for good reason. Homicides are at levels not seen for decades. How do we reverse this dangerous trend? Former prosecutor Tom Hogan has some street-tested solutions that can be implemented immediately.”
My name is Krishna Strong. I hold a bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in ecology. I specifically chose this degree in order to become a zookeeper. I am a former keeper of 25 years.
The combination of my education and my years of experience caring for captive wild animals has granted me a unique perspective that few other people have.
When it comes to Zoo Idaho’s current practices, there are too many things I cannot un-see or accept.
To begin with, animals should always come first when improving a zoo. But Zoo Idaho’s recent improvements have come at a high cost to the animals.
Shortchanging the Black Bears
Before constructing an impressive new entrance building with a gift shop, ADA accessible pathways, or a new “wetland,” Zoo Idaho should have built a new black bear exhibit. Wild black bears in the western U.S. Need a minimum home range of two and a half to ten square miles. Sadly, our local zoo bears are housed in a tiny concrete cage of around 3,000 square feet!
Zoo Idaho claims that this size falls within “industry standards.” They don’t explain whose specifications they are referring to, but as a keeper, I do know where to look. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) finds an exhibit this size for bears as minimally acceptable and requires that all new exhibits be built almost double this size at a minimum. Also, AZA requires much more than just size in order for an exhibit to be acceptable by the zoo industry. I encourage everyone to educate themselves by visiting aza.org and other animal sanctuary accreditation websites to learn about their required rules and standards.
Animals need room to roam. So what happens to their bodies and minds when they’re confined to a relatively small space? Nothing good. Some captive animals that look physically healthy may still be exhibiting unhealthy behaviors, such as pacing, biting on bars, or self-mutilation.
Even if the black bear cage at Zoo Idaho barely meets “industry standards” for size alone, any reasonable member of the public who sees this exhibit inherently knows that it is simply inhumane to keep large intelligent animals in a space this small.
Shortchanging Herd Animals
In order to construct a new “wetland,” three other species of animals—pronghorn, elk, and bison—were pushed out of a large multi-acre exhibit and crowded into tiny lifeless enclosures with little shelter and no running water.
Pronghorn are the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, with running speeds of 55 mph. They need room to move. Elk can travel a dozen or more miles a day.
The American bison is the largest land mammal in North America. It is sacred to our local Native American tribes, the Shoshone-Bannock peoples. At Zoo Idaho it has been disrespectfully sentenced to living without another member of its kind. Not only is this solitude inhumane, it is culturally insensitive to our neighboring tribes. Pocatello acquired this bison from tribes years ago. She came with a partner, and a story. The tribes explained how bison sacrifice the needs of the individual and work together as a community to protect the herd. The tribes also stressed that they brought two animals together instead of just one, because a bison should never be kept without its own kind.
As a zookeeper, my primary focus is always on the animals; providing them with everything they need to be healthy. The health of an animal includes their psychological needs. These herd animals need to be with others of their own species to feel safe and reduce stress.
The List Goes On
Many more animals besides the black bears, pronghorn, elk, and bison need their cages to be enlarged and updated.
Also, some animals, like the mule deer, appear quite sickly. They are showing ribs and have poor coat condition. Their exhibit is full of six-foot-tall thistles and other noxious weeds. They need hoof trims. Do they have parasites, nutritional deficiencies? Are they being fed and watered enough? Be transparent! Tell the public–the taxpayers, the rightful owners of these animals–what is going on. Put up some signage saying “animal under veterinary care,” if that is even the case. People see these sickly animals and become concerned. It is not a good optic.
A zoo is NOTHING without its animals. Zoo Idaho continually says that its animals are “happy and healthy.” This statement is scientifically inaccurate; it is simply anthropomorphic. We cannot speak for these animals. As keepers we can use many different tools to make a captive animal’s life as comfortable as possible. But we can never remove or completely alleviate the inherent stress of captivity itself.
That said, it is imperative that the captors themselves operate out of the highest standards possible. That means much, much more than the lowest or even the average standards accepted by the industry. We need to put the animals first, above new “wetlands,” new entrances, and new paths.
Captive wild animals should always have access to adequate space, water (preferably running instead of stagnant), nutritional food, shelter, companionship, safety, medical care, and appropriate psychological stimulation. Once the animals have appropriate habitats, elaborate entrances and pathways can follow.
An Empty “Wetland”
This algae pond sits unused, providing no current new wildlife habitat or educational value to the city, state, and federal taxpayers who paid many thousands of dollars to construct it.
Besides destroying Zoo Idaho’s largest, most natural mixed exhibit, the “wetland” now sits empty. There was NO progress here. Instead it was a huge step backwards, and it was cruel to the displaced animals.
I must also stress that within that large mixed exhibit a similar-sized pond, or wetland, with fresh flowing water had already existed for decades. In reality, no new habitat was really created here. Zoo animals just lost their homes. Bats have always frequented the zoo because the basalt cliffs provide the perfect habitat for them. Wild Canada geese and a variety of ducks were well established in that mixed exhibit long before the “wetland” was ever dreamt of, along with insects that frequent bodies of water. Wild marmots, red foxes, coyotes, deer, and even badgers were also regular visitors of the zoo before this “wetland” was built. The “wetland” accomplished nothing new except displacement.
This “wetland” was created specifically for trumpeter swans, for conservation purposes. It was primarily funded through a grant (taxpayer dollars) from the Fish and Wildlife Service over a period of years. According to the grant, the project started in 2015 and ended in 2020. Additionally, City of Pocatello equipment and employee labor was used to construct it. Zoo Idaho also claims it has planted “thousands” of wetland plants with volunteer help. In 2023 the “wetland” still sits empty and has yet to house any swans.
Zoo Idaho has repaired some pathways and created a new ADA accessible pathway to the upper level. But the upper level is still in desperate need of toilet facilities and drinking fountains.
The zoo touts the success of its educational and outreach programs, yet fails to provide even minimal on-site educational interaction, which makes me question their real commitment to education. Signage on animal exhibits and directional signage on pathways between exhibits is sparse to non-existent. Physically vulnerable patrons may end up at dead ends and have to back track after wandering around aimlessly.
This all-encompassing “construction” has been going on since 2014! It is being used as an excuse for a never-ending mess. The zoo is full of trash and construction debris in public areas that are not roped off properly. Ongoing conditions are not safe for the public, especially for children, the handicapped, and the elderly.
The grounds and the exhibits are full of non-native, noxious weeds. The City of Pocatello requires its citizens to control these weeds on private property, yet turns a blind eye when it comes to the zoo?
Safety Concerns at Zoo Idaho
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Another concern I have for Zoo Idaho is their self-admitted staffing shortage. This is unacceptable. If the City of Pocatello and the zoo director cannot provide adequate staffing for animal care, public safety, and proper attention to management of the aesthetics of exhibits and grounds, then Zoo Idaho needs to close or get better management. Poor financial decisions have obviously already been made, affecting the quality of life for the animals. Historically, the zoo was properly staffed, had many more animals in good condition, and showcased beautiful grounds—all on a similar operating budget.
My Own Experience as a Zookeeper
My responsibilities as a zookeeper went far beyond animal care. Daily I was charged with public safety. In the event of emergencies, zoo policy mandated that public safety came first. I updated signage on exhibits and pathways to eliminate confusion. I did groundskeeping, exhibit maintenance, and public education via tours and keeper talks. I was always present and readily available to assist the public, to monitor their actions, and answer questions. I kept public pathways clean and clear of tripping hazards. I made sure ALL exhibits were clean, whether occupied or not, and that my hoses and tools were sanitized and stored away neatly. I also maintained animal exhibits and surrounding areas so they were free of safety hazards, for the public and animals alike. I removed trash, debris, and noxious weeds that harmed animals and hindered the public’s ability to view them. I took great pride in my education, my years of experience, and in the professionalism of my work as a zookeeper, because I was not only working for the animals and the public but also for every taxpayer.
A Comprehensive Solution
Zoo Idaho seems to be having an identity crisis. Lately it has been referring to itself as a “rescue” or “sanctuary” instead of a zoo. But since its inception in 1932, it has always housed native animals that are unable to survive in the wild. This is nothing new and should not be used as an excuse to pull on the heartstrings of the public in order to make up for current shortcomings. Zoo Idaho really is a zoo, as indicated in its very name. It’s a far cry from the definition of a sanctuary, where animals roam large areas in natural environments undisturbed.
If Zoo Idaho insists on defining itself as a rescue or sanctuary, it needs to change its name, practices, and mission to match.
Regardless of what the zoo calls itself, it needs to improve its standards–for animal exhibits, animal care, staffing, safety, grounds, and signage. Accreditation as a zoo with AZA would ensure that a comprehensive higher set of standards are being met. It would provide objective, professional outside oversight. Pocatello’s zoo is the only non-accredited zoo in Idaho, and it shows!
Admittedly, accreditation is a comprehensive, long-term, expensive goal. But it is worth pursuing. And the guidelines are free! Even if Zoo Idaho can’t achieve accreditation right now, this doesn’t mean that it can’t change its practices and start behaving as if it were accredited.
Every decision, every action within the zoo should operate as if accreditation were already in play. This mindset alone would ensure higher standards.
Let’s set the goal high and start with the elephant in the room—or in this case, the black bears and their unacceptable cage! Pocatello and surrounding communities, let’s rally! Please go see the black bears. Go see the chaotic condition of the entire zoo. Help build the black bears a new exhibit. And don’t stop there. Make things better for all the animals.
Captive animals have psychological and physical needs. The moral and ethical responsibility of meeting these needs rests upon their captors. In building a new entrance, pathways, and an empty “wetland,” Zoo Idaho has prioritized these projects above basic animal needs. The poor condition of the exhibits and grounds and the lack of staff and educational signage is also telling. Zoo Idaho’s priorities do not lie with animal care, overall standards are lacking, and the zoo’s animals are paying the price.
As a zookeeper, a citizen of Pocatello, a property owner, and a taxpayer, I demand much higher standards from my zoo.
Pocatello’s zoo was beautiful and humane in the past; and I believe that with proper management it can be again. I want this zoo to succeed. I want it to be even better than it was in its glory days!
I am urging the citizens of Southeast Idaho to visit Zoo Idaho with a discerning eye. It opens in April. Zoo Idaho belongs to all of us, and it MUST do better, especially for the animals.
Krishna Strong holds a bachelor of science in biology with a minor in ecology. She has worked and volunteered for the Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game, and The Nature Conservancy of Idaho. Krishna was a zookeeper for 25 years. She is the author of a non-fiction book about herself as a zookeeper and a captive Canadian Lynx that she cared for, Spirit of the Lynx—Dakota’s Story. Krishna is a member of Concerned Citizens for Pocatello’s Zoo Animals (CCPZA). CCPZA advocates for the psychological and physical wellbeing of captive animals at Zoo Idaho (Pocatello’s Zoo).
Pocatello, ID–First-term Senator Glenneda Zuiderveld, of Idaho’s District 24 (Twin Falls), will share her experiences in the Senate at this month’s Liberty Dinner. Zuiderveld is known for her conservative stance, as well as for her work to stop the proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project.
The Liberty Dinner provides a great opportunity to enjoy good food, meet with fellow conservatives, and listen to patriotic speakers. The dinners are held at Mountain Valley Baptist Church, located at 202 S. 7th Ave. in Pocatello. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and dinner begins at 6:00. The cost is $25 per person. To reserve your spot, contact John Crowder at firstname.lastname@example.org.