In 1980, there were 12 conservation officers (C.O.’s) in the Magic Valley Region. Today there are 14. In 36 years, the region has seen an increase in the human population, plus increasing demands on wildlife populations and habitat.
Wildlife law enforcement is funded entirely from the sale of licenses, tags and permits. The agency receives no general fund money.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has not had a resident fee increase since 2004. Wildlife law enforcement has had restrictions, such as leaving C.O. vacancies open for at least six months, limits on miles driven per month and not purchasing needed equipment.
In 33 years with IDFG, whenever budgets were tight everyone simply tightened their belts and carried on. We were told to “do more with less.” The public never really saw changes in IDFG operations or reductions in services. If the Department started closing trout hatcheries, or selling off wildlife management areas, residents might realize there is a financial crisis.
The price of a license is still the cheapest part of any hunting or fishing trip. The Idaho Legislature and governor should stop playing politics and drop their current vendetta against the agency for doing its job.
Mike Todd, Twin Falls