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Eye On Boise

Senate confirms McDermott after debate

The Idaho Senate voted 24-10 today to confirm Fish & Game Commissioner Tony McDermott, who represents the North Idaho Panhandle, for another term, but only after an extended debate in which Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, tried to frame the vote as a referendum on wolves. Siddoway criticized the Fish & Game Commission for setting a harvest target of 220 wolves in the current wolf hunting season, rather than a figure double that number. "We have an opportunity here to send the whole Department of Fish & Game a real message," Siddoway said. "This is not about personality, this is about responsibility. ... My objection has nothing to do with me being a rancher. It has everything to do with the responsibility a Fish & Game commissioner has ... for the benefit of the hunters and fishermen of this state." Siddoway said he's not swayed by any argument that a lower wolf kill will appease a federal judge in a pending court case over wolf management, as Idaho's in court over the issue anyway. "That's how these groups make their money, that's how they keep this federal thumb on the state of Idaho," Siddoway declared to the Senate.

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, said McDermott "has worked tirelessly to support the sportsmen in Idaho," and said, "He answers the phone no matter what time of day or night I or my constituents call to ask him a question. ... He is a good man and he deserves our support." Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, who sponsored the confirmation in the Senate, said, "I think those who know me well can count me pretty solidly in the senator's camp in terms of the wolf being here in the first place. ... But they're here now, and we have to deal with them." Keough noted that only 146 wolves have been shot even with the 220 limit, and said that's the number that would have been killed even if the commission had set the limit at 500, because of the "nature of the critter." Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, noted that when the Fish & Game Commission saw that it wasn't going to hit its wolf harvest targets, it extended the wolf-hunting season. Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, said, "We have got to send a message that we've had enough, and this is one place we can do it."

McDermott, a semi-retired real estate broker, Vietnam veteran with 28 years in the military, and former professor of military science at the University of Montana, lives in Sagle. He's a life member of the NRA and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and has served on the commission for four years; he's now has been confirmed to serve another four-year term.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.