A multiyear chess game is in progress between the Idaho Legislature and Commissioners of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Gov. Butch Otter seems on the brink of favoring Idaho’s monied elite to the detriment of ordinary Idahoans.
A few legislators are working to expand the Landowner Appreciation, or LAP, system through changes in Idaho law, by requiring increased numbers of LAP tags be awarded to landowners and by allowing re-sale of LAP tags. IDFG has stated that in some hunting units mandatory LAP tag increases could mean few remaining tags for normal sale and more hunts will likely become draw hunts. One Utah ranch sells elk tags for $20,000; this is much higher than $30.75 for a normal Idaho tag. Does anyone believe that landowners will allow regular hunters to access property when this amount of money is legally available? Imagine the trouble if a regular citizen sells or gives an elk tag to a neighbor.
Two things hindered passage of these legislative giveaways. First, citizens made it clear at public meetings that little appetite exists to expand the LAP program and that re-selling big game tags is unacceptable. Second, IDFG commissioners have been outstanding at setting policies according to several input sources. Citizen input is supplemented by scientific information from IDFG biologists and game managers. Landowners also give input. In the end, IDFG commissioners hear all sides of important issues.
A clever strategy in the chess game is to implement game management policies through the Idaho Legislature. To shorten the story, let it suffice that clever legislators have tried several years to legalize resale of LAP tags and to expand the program. Between failed legislative attempts, IDFG commissioners were threatened with losing their seats if expansion is not supported. Multiple years of non-support by the commission led to today. If his mind is not changed, this month Gov. Otter may replace the two senior members of the IDFG commission with “ “better” appointees. Obviously replacing IDFG commissioners with more compliant ones is a tactic toward the end goal of LAP tag resale.
Incidentally the two jeopardized commissioners, Naillon and Doerr, were approved four years ago by the Legislature and the governor, and they are highly regarded in their regions.
If big-game hunting as an affordable family activity is important, Idahoans should call Gov. Otter: 208-334-2100. Or, email him at email@example.com. Names of the clever legislators can be found here.
Mike Ewing said he became a permanent Idaho resident in 1979 because of a great job, great people, beautiful country and unlimited outdoor activities. Archery and fishing are tops on his list.