By Steve Alder
LEWISTON — When I appeared with director Moore on Idaho Pubic Television to discuss the Wildlife Summit, the director reminded sportsmen that we are the stakeholders in Idaho Department of Fish Game and the department actually works for us. As stakeholders we are obligated to help IDFG better manage the resources.
Idaho sportsman first learned of the summit at the November 2011 commission meeting in Coeur d’Alene when
IDFG gave a presentation and provided the following exact quote validating the summit: “We’ve tried hard not to miscommunicate at this early stage that this is simply a means to raise more revenue.”
IDFG admitted that they chose to begin discussion with environmental groups prior to sportsman groups and
this greatly alarmed certain commissioners. Commissioner Wayne Wright (Region 4, Twin Falls, retired) said, “This was a dangerous path” and Commissioner Fred Trevey (Region 2, Lewiston) asked if they had spoken to Idaho for Wildlife and other sportsman groups.
The IDFG summit coordinator said they had not spoken with Idaho for Wildlife and other traditional sportsman groups about the summit. They admitted their outreach at that point was directed only at environmental conservation groups.
Why are Idaho sportsmen so skeptical of the IDFG’s association with environmental groups?
For over 30 years certain IDFG biologists have advocated non-hunting and non-consumptive practices of wildlife management all the while using sportsman dollars. As an example, in July of 1990, the 1991-1995 Elk Management Plan was completed and following is an excerpt taken from that plan:
“The department believes the greatest return to society from the wildlife resource occurs when the maximum variety of products is provided and that maximizing a single product (e.g., harvest) is not necessarily desirable. We will encourage and promote non-consumptive use of elk.”
A few years ago, several family members and friends witnessed a joint operation between IDFG and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service as they sterilized two beautiful high mountain lakes (Coolwater and Fire lakes) in North Central Idaho.
The young graduate student working for FWS was grinning ear to ear when she told us she thinks she “got them all” due to her final lethal treatment of oxygen tablets to kill every non-native brook trout and living thing in those lakes thus restoring the lakes to their natural state.
Who was paying for the oxygen tablets and her wages that day? IDFG has some tremendous employees and in my opinion many are underpaid and underappreciated. I honestly believe the department’s only long-term future financial stability is going to be predicated on its ability to properly manage its resources and closely listen to its loyal employees and long-term sportsman who have stood by the department through thick and thin.
Steve Alder is the founder of Idaho for Wildlife based in Lewiston, Idaho. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org