Letters from the West

Senate panel sends Otter’s Fish and Game picks to floor

The Idaho Senate Resource and Environment Committee approved Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s appointment of Derick Attebury of Idaho Falls and Daniel Blanco of Moscow to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Attebury, who succeeds Kenneth Anderson of Rigby, is a member of the National Rifle Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and has recently worked with Pheasants Forever on habitat projects. Blanco, who succeeds Fred Trevey of Lewiston, is an NRA member as well as a member of the Henry’s Fork Foundation, Idaho For Wildlife Foundation, The Gamebird Foundation. He’s also an Idaho Hunter Education instructor. He has served on boards including Sen. Mike Crapo’s Clearwater Elk Initiative, Concerned Sportsmen of Idaho and the Moscow Lions Club.

The panel also approved a proposal requiring the commission to offer more tags for big game to the highest bidder.

Sen. Lee Heider said the Fish and Game Commission should retain the discretion to offer the tags for big horn sheep, mountain goats, elk and deer. He voted no.

With the legislation looming, the commissioners are seeking public input on the plan. The deadline to comment online is 5 p.m. Tuesday. The plan would add one auction tag each for elk, mule deer, mountain goat, pronghorn and moose.

Idaho Fish and Game has auctioned a tag for bighorn sheep every year since 1988. The most recent tag sold for $90,000.

The Idaho Legislature in 2012 gave the commission permission to auction up to 12 Governor’s Wildlife Partnership big-game tags. The commission hasn’t used that authority so far.

The meeting to make a decision on the auction tags is a conference call at 8 a.m. Thursday.

At least 95 percent of proceeds from auction tags would go to Fish and Game. Up to 30 percent of the money could be used for sportsman access programs.

Fish and Game recently surveyed people about auction tags. It found that 55 percent of hunters surveyed considered auction tags acceptable to generate funds for wildlife management. Fifty-one percent said Fish and Game should release all of its auction tags to help fund wildlife management and hunter access programs.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker