Idahoans who don’t buy hunting or fishing licenses might as well have one foot in a leg-hold trap when they try to lobby most of the members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
The trap should be named the Money Trap. Here’s how it works.
Commissioners are political appointees of the governor. The commission oversees the Idaho Department of Fish and Game director, policies, projects, and hunting and fishing seasons.
IDFG receives zero funding from Idaho taxpayers. It receives federal grants, but gets most of its revenue from license holders.
Consequently, when commissioners run into contentious issues, they view differing opinions through the lens of whether they come from license holders—or not. More often than not, the commissioners dance with them that brung ’em.
For wolves, this means that the commissioners listen well to groups of vocal Idaho hunters who don’t like wolves in any number, let alone the estimated 1,500 that may be roaming the state. It means they can be deaf to wolf advocates.
The commissioners are also sensitive to the views of members of the Idaho Legislature, because legislators control IDFG’s budget.
The Money Trap is a persistent threat to wildlife. Within its jaws, commissioners can chew off the leg of science-based management in the name of IDFG’s financial survival. They can flee science and embrace myths instead.
The Money Trap is unlikely to release its grip on the debate over wolf hunting and trapping until the pressure of state taxpayer funding for IDFG becomes a reality.
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