Watch what you ask for, Idaho, you just might get it!
It is that time of year again when everyone is out shed hunting and the early planning stages of hunt applications are creeping into the back of every hunter’s mind. But that may not be true for some volunteers in Idaho if one or both proposed Senate bills pass. And that could spell bad news for hunters in general.
We all hear rumblings from time to time about how curious it is that certain folks always seem to draw great tags. Apparently in Idaho the rumblings are so loud that two separate legislators want to privatize the draw process in the interests of total transparency so that hunters that don’t draw tags can feel secure knowing that they are getting a fair shake. For some reason Idaho hunters question why certain Department of Fish and Game employees and their family members always seem to draw great tags. Whether or not that is true, both bills are designed to make the application and drawing process more transparent by paying $102,500 per year to a private company to manage the draw. Aside from the money, there is a real problem with some finer points in one of the bills as proposed.
It is being reported that one of the two bills would restrict Fish and Game Commission members and Department of Fish and Game employees from entering the draw. That creates the potential for a chilling effect, and could significantly alter the future of hunting in Idaho.
First, why would any state want to keep their wildlife commission members and F&G employees from being in the field? Many of the members and employees spend a lot of their free time hunting, during which they get a first-hand look at habitat, animal quality and all aspects of the condition of their state’s wildlife. Keeping commission members and employees from applying for tags is not beneficial in any way.
Next, there is a chilling effect that will result. Keeping commission members and employees from applying for tags is a big deterrent. Many state wildlife commissions are made up of volunteers. If a state keeps them from applying for tags not only is the person donating their time, but also giving up a basic and inherent right to hunt. And it’s pretty clear that state fish and game employees don’t take the job for the money.
Who would be fine foregoing their hunting privileges to sit on a state’s wildlife commission or work for the Fish and Game? Anti-hunters and people that don’t appreciate hunting heritage, that’s who. Does Idaho want its wildlife commission to be made up of people that don’t hunt? States all across the country have pro-animal rights advocates sitting on wildlife commissions and it usually doesn’t take long for those folks to start attacking aspects of hunting. Bear hunts and trapping usually are the first to be questioned, and it goes from there.
Nobody wants to be a part of a draw where it seems the results are rigged, whether it is a raffle for a gun at the local conservation event or during the drawing for a coveted tag. But restricting commission members and Fish and Game employees from applying is like killing a fly with a nuclear bomb—sure it gets the job done but the fallout is more catastrophic than the original problem. And in defense of the legislator that proposed the restriction, he is quoted as saying this is the “nuclear option.” The analogy isn’t too far from reality.