WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT -- Members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission are getting the cold shoulder from Gov. Butch Otter, likely for taking a stand against the governor's wishes to give more hunting tag options for the wealthy. The commission took its stand last fall after surveying sportsmen.
Here's the latest from outdoors reporter Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:
Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Mark Doerr of Twin Falls blasted state legislators for interjecting politics into the management of fish and wildlife Friday.
The one-term commissioner announced he won’t reapply for his position.
“We serve at the pleasure of the governor,” Doer said, “and if he wanted to reappoint me, he would do that.”
Doerr and Commissioner Will Naillon of Challis were both notified by the office of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter that he would not reappoint them to their positions. Otter’s decision not to automatically reappoint the two men was widely seen as political retribution for the commission’s refusal to make it easier for wealthy hunters to win coveted big game tags and for refusing to allow large landowners to sell hunting tags.
During this year’s legislative session, Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot and Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, sponsored legislation that would have forced the commission to offer a number of big game hunting tags for auction. The bill was printed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee but never received a hearing.
At the same time, the commission considered but rejected adopting additional auction tags beyond the one annual bighorn sheep tag that is sold to the highest bidder. Doerr said the politicians wanted the commission to pass something they didn’t have the political capital to push through the Legislature.
“After several meetings with legislative leadership, it became abundantly clear that they wanted the commission to do their dirty work for them by changing commission policy,” he said in a lengthy statement. “The commission did not change policy due to the overwhelming input of the sportsmen of Idaho to maintain the current policy. The legislators were not happy and it is unfortunate their influence impacted the governor’s decision on commission re-appointments.”
Doerr urged legislative leaders to respect the 1938 citizens initiative that created the commission as a way to insulate fish and wildlife management from politics. He also asked them to steer clear of bills in the next session that would force the commission and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to sell more auction tags, institute a system that would allow hunters to receive extra chances at winning tags in the state’s annual controlled hunt drawing or those that would allow landowners to sell hunting tags.
“The personal, political and financial gain offered by special interests must be intoxicating for those in leadership in the Idaho Legislature because they continually ignore the will of the majority of their constituents, in this case, the sportsmen of Idaho.”
Doerr said he is confident the remaining commissioners and those who are appointed to take his and Naillon’s place will continue to represent hunters, anglers and wildlife. He said he will accept an offer to serve on a committee that will make a recommendation on his replacement.
Idaho Fish & Game Commissioner Mark Doerr of Twin Falls has joined commission Chairman Will Naillon in announcing he won’t reapply for his post – and criticizing state legislators for meddling in the management of fish and wildlife in Idaho, the Lewiston Tribune reports. “We serve at the pleasure of the governor,” Doerr told Tribune reporter Eric Barker, “and if he wanted to reappoint me, he would do that.”
Otter surprised many when he announced he was taking applications for the two commission posts, and that the commissioners could reapply if they wished; normally, commissioners are either reappointed by the governor or not. Both Naillon and Doerr said they’re accepting Otter’s offer to serve on a panel that will select their replacements.