November 28, 2023

Idaho "Camo Day" Declares Support For All Sportsmen…..Except….?

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Yesterday was Camo Day. The day when hundreds of Idaho sportsmen were to descend upon the Boise Capital to remind the lawmakers that someone was watching them. According to the Idaho Statesman, 200 sportsmen showed up as part of a contingency that represents 31 Idaho sportsman’s groups scattered across the state. I spoke with Kristy Hein, one of the owners of the Black Canyon Elk Ranch in Emmett, yesterday immediately following the gathering. She said she counted 92 participants. Perhaps she couldn’t see them all being they were clad in camouflage.

The coalition call themselves the Idaho Sportsman’s Caucus Advisory Council. Spokesmen for the ISCAC had much to say but do they really mean what they are touting in the public forum?

“Idaho sportsmen andwomen have never been as united as they are right now,” said Mark Bell, president of the Idaho Sportsmen’s Advisory Caucus, which organized the event.

Here’s another.

“I think sportsmen of all kinds are realizing that no political party is going to represent their interests all the time,” said James Piotrowski, president of the Ted Trueblood Trout Unlimited chapter in Boise.

He said banding together benefits all sporting groups because most consist of volunteers who won’t have to duplicate the work of lobbying for their causes at the Statehouse.

He also pointed out that all organizations share a common goal in protecting and conserving wildlife.

“Trout Unlimited’s interests coincide with hunters, trappers and houndsmen.

“All wildlife needs the same preservation of habitat,” Piotrowski said.

Steve Huffaker, the recently retired head of the Idaho Fish and Game seemed to agree with Piotrowski.

Huffaker said those interests also cross over to every resident of the state because hunters and anglers help preserve and protect wildlife and wildlands that everyone enjoys, regardless of whether they fish or hunt.

“Sportsmen in Idaho create the quality of life we all enjoy,” Huffaker said.

Huffaker was in charge at the fish and game when he and then Governor Jim Risch led a campaign to kill all the elk that had escaped Rex Rammell’s elk ranch out of fear that disease would destroy the wild elk population and cross-breeding of elk genes would destroy the Yellowstone Elk.

This same group (ISCAC), who claims they are looking out for all sportsman’s interests, are mounting a campaign to ban elk farming which includes putting an end to the practice of hunting on elk ranches. One of the main reasons for “Camo Day” was to bring attention to their personal campaigns to ban elk farming and hunting.

Perhaps they should reword some of their public statements to more accurately reflect their philosophy that they are looking out for the best interests of all sportsmen who think the way they do. They obviously have no use for personal rights or property rights and don’t believe that any form of ranch hunting falls within the personal ethics of others.

There is no real science that shows that farming elk is a danger to the wild elk population. If anything it is the opposite. Many elk ranchers are concerned about their animals becoming infected from diseased wild elk populations. The issue of elk hunting on ranches becomes strictly a property rights issue because there is no public threat no more than there is with the cattle industry.

If hunters representing the ISCAC believe that hunting on elk ranches isn’t in their repertoire of hunting, they are certainly entitled to their opinions on that. Being against it doesn’t give them a right to take that privilege away from others or just as importantly to strip hard working Americans of their right to operate a clean, safe business.

If the ISCAC is truly destined to unify all sportsmen in Idaho, they have an odd way of displaying it. You can’t exclaim to represent all when you exclude some, simply because you don’t agree. Rights are easy when you respect the thoughts and wishes of others. When you want to remove rights from those you don’t agree with, you become a hypocrite and self-serving.

With no science to stand on to show that elk ranching is a public safety issue and/or a threat to the wildlife of Idaho, the ISCAC has no business demanding the Idaho legislature enact bills to ban the elk industry. It is un-American.

Tom Remington