2012 Hunting Legislation

Unfortunately, the legislators are convening in Boise, and doing what they do best. There's a few bills brewing in Boise that concern hunting, and the stench is thick, palpable.

First is Senate Bill 1282, and it may be the lesser of evils. This would allow landowners in the Landowner Appreciation Program to sell their tags to the highest bidder. In exchange for that right, the landowner would have to make his land available to the public for hunting. This is in line with the IF&G's objective to make as much land as possible open for the public. It is in the same spirit as the Access Yes properties, where landowners are either paid, or get some kind of tax break, for allowing the public to hunt on their land. Okay. And many feel that this is a way to curb hefty trespass fees charged by landowners. Okay.

Second is Senate Bill 1283, sponsored by Sen. Siddoway who owns Juniper Mountain, a high fenced, private elk hunting "opportunity," for those with wallets fat enough to afford that sort of monkeying around. This bill allows landowners to sell Landowner Appreciation tags to the highest bidder, but it does not require the landowner to then make his property available to the public. Hmmm. And that is where the stink is coming from. Sen. Siddoway has not replied to my generous email that inquired for further information. IF&G is not supportive of this bill.

Third is Senate Bill 1256. This would establish more Governor's Tags that could be auctioned off to the highest bidder. It's a small amount of tags that could really bring in a hefty load of funding to the IF&G. IF&G does not take a stand one way or the other on this one; they're content to see how it plays out. Hunters are divided. Some see it as a beneficial trade off that could provide the funding for more habitat development, etc., even as IF&G's coffers are pretty empty. Others are disturbed that the rich get to buy their way into the premium hunts, while the average Joe spends his life applying and applying and applying. I am basically in that camp, wanting everyone to play by the same rules. Besides that, it seems like a desperate move to keep an unsustainable government "business" in business. Making something permanent by law in this way isn't wise. Finally, all we can hope for if this does pass, is that the accountability for the program has integrity.

No changes would be best.

There's more. Such as the Idaho Constitutional amendment that would secure hunting and fishing as an indelible right for citizens. Maybe I'll have something to say on that later, but right now I'm burnt out on politics. And it's not even November yet.

The Idaho Statesman reports on the bills here.

~ J. Bunch

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