Bear hunting is splitting the head of state and the head of his household.
Idaho Gov. Phil Batt announced Thursday he will vote against a statewide initiative banning certain types of black bear hunting. But his wife, Jacque Batt, “a woman of great wisdom who is not anti-hunting, will vote for the measure,” the governor said.
“She thinks the bears need a sporting chance,” said Batt. “That’s not a bad argument. We will split our vote.”
Batt hunts pheasants but has never hunted bears. His wife doesn’t hunt but likes to fish.
Supporters of the initiative, who are bullish on its chances at the polls, seem unsurprised by the dichotomy at the Batt house. While there have been no formal attempts to find out how the proposal is viewed by men vs. women, news stories suggest women support it more often, said Lynn Fritchman, chairman of the Idaho Coalition United for Bears.
“I think the maternal instinct comes to the fore,” Fritchman said, referring to one tenant of the initiative that would ban spring bear hunting. “No doubt, cubs are orphaned in the spring, and those that are die of starvation or are taken by predators.”
The initiative also would prohibit baiting bears and using packs of hounds to hunt bears - and the fight over it has attracted more campaign money, about a quarter million dollars, than any other initiative on the November ballot. It’s strongly opposed by the Sportsmen’s Heritage Defense Fund.
Those pushing limits on bear hunting “try to bring motherhood into it,” said Ed Lehman of Laclede and a member of the anti-initiative group. But “you can’t manage wildlife with emotion.” Too many animals means some of them starve, he said.
As to the news from Boise, “good for the governor,” Lehman said.
Does he believe such high-level splits are common in state government circles?
“Lt. Gov. Butch Otter is our honorary chairman,” Lehman pointed out. “Whether his wife is going to vote for the initiative, I don’t know.”