In my opinion, politics have no place in wildlife management. In fact, in 1938, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission was established to remove politics from wildlife management. Unfortunately, a few elected politicians in Idaho have decided to use their position and political power to strong-arm certain wildlife management agendas into action. Because of this, the landscape of wildlife management in Idaho has become entangled in a political chess match.
In a nutshell, the Idaho F&G Commission (7 members) should be receiving input from sportsmen and then drafting bills pertaining to wildlife management. They would then submit these bills to the Idaho State Legislature to get them approved and written into law. In a perfect world, that is what would happen. Unfortunately, a few lawmakers in Idaho have been attempting to add personal agenda “riders” to bills that the Idaho F&G Commission has been attempting to submit. Most notably as of late, is the fee increase proposal that the Idaho F&G Department desperately needs to be able to manage Idaho’s wildlife.
Idaho Fish and Game receives no general tax revenue. They are funded by license and tag sales, so the usual solution to keeping up with inflation is to either cut programs or increase fees. It has been over 12 years since Idaho residents have seen any fee increases on hunting/fishing licenses and tags. During that time, the Fish and Game’s operational costs have increased over 22 percent due to inflation. The level of services Fish and Game provides and their ability to manage wildlife are both decreasing because of increased costs and no increase in revenue. To provide the level of services and professional management that is needed in Idaho, the Fish and Game needs additional revenue. The proposed fee increase is minimal, with a $1 – $6 increase being proposed, with incentives for hunters to purchase a license every year and experience no increase.
Unfortunately, every attempt to introduce a fee increase bill through the Idaho State Legislature has been obstructed by a couple greedy members of the Idaho House and Senate. In previous attempts, they have attached personal agenda bills (riders) to the fee increase bill, and let the Idaho F&G Commission know that they will not allow the needed revenue to make it to the Fish and Game Department unless their agendas are approved in conjunction with the fee increase bill.
The good news is that these members of the Senate and House have been caught in unethical and corrupt behavior as of late, and they are now trying to lie low. Because of this pressure, it is unlikely that they will be attempting to add their riders to a fee increase bill this year. Instead, the F&G Commission is now meeting resistance to introducing a fee increase bill at all.
THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN. Sportsmen need to make their voices heard, and send a clear message to the Idaho State Legislature that we do not approve of political meddling in the managing of our wildlife. With the help of great organizations like the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) and the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF), we have made it really easy to get involved and add your voice to the voices of other concerned sportsmen.
I fully support the proposed Fee Increase bill that the IDF&G Commission is attempting to send through AS A CLEAN BILL (no attached riders). The revenue that will be generated by the Fee Increase is vital to be able to manage Idaho’s wildlife, BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
The very first step in getting the bill moved through legislation is getting it approved for a print hearing with the House Resources & Conservation Committee. The chairman of the House Resources & Conservation Committee, Marc Gibbs, is a previous F&G Commissioner, and has expressed that he needs to hear from sportsmen and other legislators regarding their support for the fee increase, otherwise the bill will likely never even get to see the light of day. Here is what you can do:
1. Call and/or email Marc Gibbs – firstname.lastname@example.org (208) 547-7447
2. Call and/or email the members of the House Resources & Conservation Committee:
3. And if you are a resident of Idaho, call and/or email your House representative and ask them to urge Chairman Marc Gibbs to support the IDFG Fee Increase bill. You can find your representatives at https://legislature.idaho.gov/legislators/whosmylegislator/, just by entering your address.
*NOTE: The copy/paste function is disabled on this page, but scroll down to the comments area below and the information is there and can be easily copied and pasted into your emails.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: When contacting the above individuals regarding the Fee Increase Bill, it is imperative to stay on message and not muddy the waters by bringing up past issues. I would suggest a subject line of “Please support the IDFG Fee Increase” and writing something simple in your email such as:
“I am contacting you as a concerned hunter, and would like to ask for your support to give the Idaho Fish & Game Fee Increase bill a print hearing. As a sportsmen, I would like to see the IDFG Fee Increase Bill pass as a clean bill, so that the IDFG can receive the revenue they need to properly manage the fish and wildlife in the state of Idaho.”
Please do not use this opportunity as a chance to bring up other issues (Bonus Points, Auction Tags, Landowner Tags, etc.), and keep in mind that many of these individuals support this bill (don’t come across as blaming anyone for it not passing in the past). Your voice absolutely carries weight, but sportsmen have been too apathetic in the past and have not expressed their voices nearly enough.
If this is all too overwhelming for you, there is a simple option. While it will be less effective than a personal message to each of the individuals listed above, it will still provide you with an opportunity to very easily send a message that you support the Fee Increase bill with no strings attached. Simply click on the link below to go to a pre-generated form that will automatically be sent to Legislators letting them know that you support the bill. Here is the link:
Again, it will be much more effective if you take 2-3 minutes and send individual emails to Marc Gibbs and every member of the House Resources & Conservation Committee. It will only take you a couple of minutes to draft an email and then send it out to each email address, and your voice will be a powerful addition to the voice of sportsmen who value the opportunity to hunt in Idaho.
I urge you to be involved in this process. We cannot afford to continue to sit back and hope Idaho’s wildlife is managed correctly. We need your help in sending a clear message to politicians that the state-owned resource of Idaho’s fish and wildlife needs to be funded and managed without political meddling.