*Editor’s Note* – George Dovel, editor of The Outdoorsman, is the master of truthful, accurate reporting/journalism of Idaho’s outdoors. With his life-long pride of accuracy and substantiation of information made available to the public, his reputation cannot be outdone by anyone. It is for this reason, “someone” sought out Mr. Dovel in order to allow him to break to the public this news, that, quite frankly, still has me baffled.
I am deeply humbled that Mr. Dovel has provided to me his story with a request to publish it beyond The Outdoorsman and offer my own comments. He writes: “I’m emailing this to [you] now and I hope you publish it with whatever comments you may choose.”
I had not seriously thought such an action as is described below was possible. In addition to remaining the perpetual skeptic that I was born to be, this action to return Idaho’s fish and game management to what it was voted to be in 1938 by the citizens of Idaho and reinforced in 2012 with a constitutional amendment to protect hunting, trapping and fishing, I cannot believe that this effort will not go unmolested by those, I am sure, who must be boiling with anger inside.
While not a cure all, and is sure to have little effect on the mass movement to “create new knowledge” and “change the way we discuss wildlife management,” which is the foundation of the destruction of real, scientific wildlife management, what an incredible bright spot, in consideration of the bravery of those Idaho commissioners, and seemingly IDFG’s Director Virgil Moore, that the windfall of brainwashed paradigm-shifted, nonsense being perpetuated by agenda-driven environmentalists, hasn’t completely taken over everyone’s minds.
What has, at least since wolf (re)introduction, been the co-option of normal fish and game management by post normal science management into Idaho’s Fish and Game Department, we can certainly expect real opposition to this effort and creative ways to destroy what has now been started.
George Dovel has written for years that IDFG did not have the right to rewrite or make up how they wanted to operate as a government wildlife management agency. I have read so many times his words, they are burned into my brain – “IDFG has to get approval from the Legislature” to alter management of wildlife.
It is not mere coincidence that we are now seeing Dovel’s efforts pay off.
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The NEW Idaho Fish and Game Agenda
Please Read This Carefully and Save It
By George Dovel
(NOTE: In March of 2004, I quit working within the system as Gov. Phil Batt had recommended nine years earlier, and began publishing this new version of The Outdoorsman. Thirty years earlier when we halted the original paid publication, it had accomplished its goal and a new Fish and Game Director, with help from thousands of hunters and their legislators, demanded a return to honesty and scientifically managed game populations.
The following emails forwarded from Commission Chairman Fred Trevey to former F&G Commissioner Tony McDermott last month, prove what can happen when Fish and Game Commissioners with courage and integrity are provided the facts they need to do their job: – ED)
Subject: FW: The Contact-September 2014
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2014 16:30:17 +0000
Tony–FOR YOUR INFORMATION. Below are my comments to our sportsman’s coffee last week and the communication to all employees we asked Virgil to send out. The message is clear—we are in the fishing, hunting and trapping business. I’ll send you some more info stuff later as we dial in direction that reflects the commission’s expectations.
SPORTSMAN’S COFFEE —– SEPTEMBER 9, 2014
–LAP will remain unchanged (brief background) –Focus on Mission–75th anniversary
75 years ago, the Fish & Game Mission was set by citizen initiative in 1938. It is set forth in Idaho Code 36-103 (a) “Wildlife Policy. All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”
This mission statement provides a clear and definitive statement directing the conservation of all of Idaho’s wildlife and also equally clear direction to manage wildlife for “continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping”.
The majority of Idahoan’s values relative to wildlife have remained essentially unchanged over the past 75 years.
The initiative creating the mission was approved by 76% of voters in 1938 and the Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt, fish and trap passed by 75% in 2012. Further, the amendment highlights the preferred method of managing Idaho’s wildlife populations is regulated hunting, fishing and trapping.
However, today there is a small group of folks that do not believe in consumptive use of wildlife and would prefer management that permits a “let nature to take its course” philosophy. They especially disagree with predator management.
The Commission firmly disagrees with this philosophy.
Our current economic model of funding based predominantly on hunter and angler user fees has long served us well and it is the main reason wildlife populations recovered after market hunting nearly wiped out big game early in the 20th century.
From time to time in the life of any organization it is important to step back and take stock of how well the organization is holding true to its mission.
Given the pressures the Commission experiences that seek to change or at least adopt modifications to the basic mission, (which by the way we have no authority to do—only the legislature can and I very much doubt that will happen any time soon) we decided to ask the Director to help us reconfirm the Department’s dedication to the basic mission and focus Department personnel on managing our fish and wildlife resources, using scientific principles, for PEOPLE as job number one. It has been proven through the years that if this job is done well, then all wildlife benefits, thereby satisfying both consumptive and non-consumptive desires. Sportsmen need to be proud of their support and accomplishment through the years.
This week the Director will provide direction to all Department personnel concerning the expectations outlined in the 1938 Mission statement. And, that the Department’s primary role and responsibility is to manage fish and wildlife for people to have the opportunity to continue to enjoy hunting, fishing and trapping.
From: Moore,Virgil Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 1:20 PM Subject: The Contact-September 2014
Idaho Fish and Game Director’s Newsletter September 2014 From the Director’s Office [Director Virgil Moore]
Director Responds to Confluence Café Report
I have reviewed the Confluence Café report http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/internal/email/contact/confluence/2014_0521_IDFG_ConfluenceCafeSummary.pdf from the 2014 ISTS and I promised to share my perspectives about the input provided, and how I intend to put it to use. The theme of ISTS this year was to focus on Fish and Game’s financial state (“Are we in business?”) and an evaluation of our budgeted activities (“What business are we in?”). I focused on the results that are related to the Idaho Fish and Game mission from Round 4 of the Café that asked the questions: What most needs our collective focused attention and what will this require? and Suggested Actions of the Café as information for IFG leadership to use as it rolls up the collective thinking of IFG staff to strategically position programs and revenue. Information about our financial state and internal communication actions from this Café exercise will be a separate communication coming out soon.
We structured the ISTS to provide you with an overview of, and refresher about the Idaho Fish and Game mission, our public trust responsibilities, including hearing from trustees (Commissioners and legislators) and beneficiaries (hunters, anglers and various publics) so we as managers would better understand our legal responsibilities to this public trust. I believe the speaker panels illustrated the challenges we face in meeting those responsibilities. While I am committed to using many of the suggestions you collectively identified in the Café document to help all of us be a more effective management team, there are several key themes in the Café report that I will not take any action on. These are specifically related to our mission, agency name and use of general tax funds. Some examples from the Café summary are:
· The role of the Department is to provide wildlife opportunities (e.g. harvest, viewing) to the public. This broader view is inconsistent with the current funding model. · The scope of Fish & Game services goes beyond sport activities. The Department’s name and brand should reflect the breadth of its services.
· Change the name of the Department to better reflect its mission (the mission is beyond “fish and game”).
· Modify the mission statement to explicitly include management of wildlife habitat (not just wildlife), and recognition of the intrinsic values and non-consumptive uses of fish and wildlife.
· Get general funding or sales tax for non-game and plant habitat work.
My message to all of you about our name and Mission is simple and hopefully crystal clear – I do not support any actions that recommend a change in the Fish and Game name, Mission, components of our logo or moving away from the user pay/user benefit funding model as our dominant revenue stream to the Fish and Game budgets.
The Fish and Game Mission and name were set by citizen initiative in 1938, gaining approval of 76% of the voters. The Mission Statement therefore belongs to the public and it is not within agency or commission purview to change. The Mission not only includes a clear and definitive statement directing the conservation (preserve, protect, perpetuate) of all of Idaho’s wildlife, but provides clear direction to manage wildlife for “continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping”. The Mission was further reinforced by the overwhelming support (75% of voters) for the 2012 constitutional amendment that preserves the public’s right to hunt, fish and trap and states this is the preferred method of managing Idaho’s wildlife populations via regulated hunting, fishing and trapping.
In this day and age of polarization on many issues with narrow margins, the overwhelming support for hunting, fishing and trapping gives the conservation and management message of the Idaho Fish and Game mission strong contemporary support. This continues to help us as an agency in meeting the vast majority of our public’s expectations. We are a public trust management agency providing benefits to Idahoans with a specific direction to preserve, protect and perpetuate (i.e. conserve) and once that is done, our paramount role is to provide for continued supplies for hunting, fishing, and trapping; harvest of wildlife is implicit in the Mission statement.
Idaho Fish and Game, both the agency and Commission, continues to garner one of the highest levels of positive public opinion relative to other entities dealing with the conservation of Idaho’s natural resources, well over 70% in a 2013 poll. I believe this is due to the work all of us have done, and collectively do, for the beneficiaries of that public trust – Idaho citizens. Our current economic model of funding based predominantly on hunter and angler user fees for Fish and Game’s management activities has long been a key and successful aspect of the North American Model of Wildlife Management in Idaho – the most successful approach to wildlife conservation ever taken on a large scale in the world.
So, coming from this perspective, quite frankly I was troubled by a number of outcomes from Confluence Café exercise focused on these issues. The café was intended to provide a venue for folks to give input to our agency leadership about the important conservation and management work we do for Idahoans as the managers of this public trust. By and large I believe we missed that mark by failing to consider our role is as the manager of Idaho’s wildlife public trust. Clearly we are in business and our “business” is the effective conservation (preserve, protect, perpetuate) and stewardship (management) of Idaho’s wildlife, providing benefits for hunting, fishing, and trapping that come with healthy and secure wildlife populations.
The Commission (via Governor appointment) and the legislature are the trustees of the public’s wildlife. The Commission’s role is to provide the public, as the trust beneficiaries, with sustainable use of that trust. As fish and wildlife (trust) managers, we have to be responsible to our legal role to advise the trustees, ascertain what constitutes sustainability, and determine to the best of our ability what kind of trust output the public (beneficiaries) desires (see ISTS Public Trust Doctrine presentation http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/internal/email/contact/confluence/IDaho_ISTS_PTD.pptx). While we all care deeply about the agency and have invested some or most of our professional lives to it, it does not make it ours. It’s the people’s agency. In my view, our highest priority role is to effectively communicate with both beneficiaries and trustees on what constitutes stewardship, and to do so with a strong scientific foundation. Once the Commission or legislature makes a decision, our role is to implement it effectively. We have an exceptionally talented and highly trained work force, and that is what we are hired to do.
To sum this up, the Department’s primary role and responsibility is to manage wildlife for people. We all know our mission is broad, and it includes all wildlife – but managing fish and wildlife for people is what we are charged to do and we need to make sure that continues to be done, and done well. As an agency, we have been exceptionally successful under the guidance of our Mission statement that all wildlife of Idaho “…shall be preserved, protected and perpetuated and managed”. Indeed, Idaho’s wildlife resources are world class, both in terms of diversity and representation of species, and in terms of the opportunities and experiences it affords Idahoans and our guests. That’s testimony to the work you do, and the work of our predecessors, adapting to changing times and societal demands as we implement the North American Model of Wildlife Management. Our success is a large part of what makes Idaho such a special place to hunt, fish and generally enjoy wildlife. A success predominately supported by the people who are hunters and anglers and carried out by you, as Fish and Game staff, who are the best and most dedicated professionals anywhere.
For my 37 years with Idaho Fish and Game, our Mission statement has been the single most important guide to me in all aspects of my activities as a fishery and wildlife management professional. It is the rock I come back to relative to who we are and what we do for the public we serve, and I refer to it regularly. Please take a few minutes to do the same, and use it to guide your daily activities as we strive to make Idaho a better place for fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers, and all of the citizens who benefit from this incredible resource.
Virgil Moore, Director
(NOTE: Director Moore enclosed a copy of the 1938 mission statement declared to be Idaho Wildlife Policy as I.C. Sec. 36-103. That mission statement is strongly reinforced in its last sentence which states, “The commission is not authorized to change such policy but only to administer it.”
My wife and I wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners and to all who have made this first important step possible. We still need and sincerely appreciate your donations to help support the vital information we provide and distribute. – ED)