December 7, 2019

Idaho Fish and Game’s Blind Ignorance

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This morning I was reading the “Critter News”, an electronic news report that get sent to a small contingency of readers. The editor provided a link to a story in the Magic Valley news online (subscription). The title of the article is, “Decline in Hunting-license Sales Sinks Conservation Money”.

As I began to read, it was about 50 words into the story that this quote from Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) regional conservation officer Gary Hompland, appeared.

“Fishing licenses have stayed relatively steady as far as the numbers of licenses sold,” regional conservation officer Gary Hompland said. “Most of that, from what we can tell, is because we’ve had some really good salmon and steelhead runs the last few years.”

From this point on Hompland laments about the drop in hunting license sales. While it appears from Hompland’s perspective, fishing license sales is very cut and dry; lots of fish equals lots of fishing licenses sold. Evidently this same theory doesn’t hold true for hunting.

According to Hompland, the loss of hunting license sales is having a devastating effect on the budget at IDFG and evidently the reasons are varied and have nothing to do with a lack of game to hunt. Here’s the list of excuses:

1.) According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey information, hunting license sales have declined since 1975. So, it’s a trend but no reasons given as to what drives that “trend”.

2.) IDFG attempted to lesson the blow by stating three other states, Rhode Island, California and Iowa, as having a greater decline in sales than Idaho.

3.) A “dour economy” as it is called by Hompland.

4.) And, “changing demographics of hunters”.

5.) Lack of new hunter recruitment “like we used to”.

6.) More single-parent families result in fewer hunters.

All of these items seem to be contributing factors to the decline of hunting and evidently none of them effect fishing. But what’s even more transparently ignorant is to think that when it comes to fishing, it’s all about how many fish there are to catch but when it comes to hunting, it’s about everything else except how much game there is to shoot.

Idaho is not alone. Several states face budget problems and some of that is due to a decline in license sales. The state of Maine is one such state. As a matter of fact they formed a dreaded “task force” to study why nobody from out of state wants to go to Maine to hunt anymore. The task force acknowledged the fact that Maine’s deer population has disappeared, especially in those regions where the out-of-state hunters went for trophy game. Instead of working to deal with that problem, the opted, as I guess we are seeing here in Idaho, to not necessarily deny there’s a game problem but find every excuse other than that for the decline in hunting licenses sold.

Tom Remington

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