January 17, 1995 in Outdoors

Sportsmen Should Protest Move In Idaho

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

Idaho sportsmen had better get a grip.

Regardless of what direction they want their state government to go following the November elections, there’s no excuse to let wildlife management go down the tube.

Last week, Phil Batt, Idaho’s newly elected governor, sent letters asking for the resignations of the state’s Fish and Game Commissioners.

Sportsmen should tell Batt to back off.

Batt has been pandering to southern Idaho sportsmen, who want Fish and Game director Jerry Conley fired, mainly because he won’t dump more money down the rat hole of winter feeding for deer.

“No governor has attempted to dismiss the entire commission in its 57-year history,” said Fred Christensen, president of the Idaho Wildlife Federation and former commission member.

“The meddling of politics in wildlife management was exactly the issue which made sportsmen so hopping mad in 1938 that they pushed a statewide initiative that eventually formed the Fish and Game Commission.”

Washington’s Wildlife Commission had a similar grassroots beginning in the late 1930s. But the good intentions went down the drain in 1987.

Under the new system, the power to appoint the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department director was stripped from the commission and given to the governor.

Washington sportsmen are banking on the new Republican majority in Olympia to help restore power and autonomy to the citizen-based commission.

Ironically, southern Idaho sportsmen are lobbying Republican Turks to neuter their commission.

“The Idaho Wildlife Federation doesn’t feel that commissioners should be put in a position to make political decisions over their better judgment when better scientific data are available,” Christiansen said. “The health of fish and wildlife is at stake.”

Shop and compare: Idaho sportsmen who think they have it bad with Jerry Conley ought to come to Washington, where Fish and Wildlife Department director Bob Turner has turned his agency into a bumbling, paranoid PR firm.

You don’t see much hunting issue information coming out of Olympia. It might offend an animal rights activist.

Conley talks frankly to sportsmen on a radio show each week. In Washington, Turner doesn’t say anything to the public that isn’t politically sanitized.

Knowledgeable Washington sportsmen would trade a year of hunting and fishing to get Conley and Idaho’s system for a strong Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Trust us, Idaho. You have no problems worth the risk of political tinkering with your Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Mixed metaphor: One must hope KXLY-TV anchor Marianne Mishima was tongue-in-cheek Friday when she announced that gray wolves are coming into this region “on their own two feet.”

Days of the jays: The bird caught my eye from the kitchen window in November. It was so obviously foreign, my 9-year-old daughter came racing in from the front yard and said, “Dad! There’s a really interesting bird with a blue point on its head out in the yard.”

The blue jay, a bird that once never ventured west of North Dakota, is extending its range westward.

Spokane Audubon Society members have been documenting increased sightings with mixed emotions.

Known as a bully among birdwatchers, the blue jay is a colorful character with a vocal repertoire that ranges from screaming to singing.

“I have heard stories about blue jay raids on other birds’ nests in the summer and I have read that they actually eat the eggs to vary their summer diet, although I have never witnessed this,” said local Auduboner Ann Hurst.

“What I have seen are these very handsome birds mobbing a hawk repeatedly to drive it away from their territory.”

She also has vivid memories of jays harassing her dogs in the backyard when she lived in Louisiana.

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